World (and pants) on fire

“My faith was so much stronger then.  I believed in fellow men.  And I was so much older then.  When I was young” – E Burdon

Parents lie.  My parents lied.  I imagine your parents lied to you as well.  And as parents, we will lie to kids.   So before I get a call from my family asking why I am revealing family secrets.  Let me clarify…which, by the way, is a rare thing.  Clarity of thought, words and actions is not something I am known for.  Actually I do not really know what I am known for – I know my students compliment me for having the shiniest head on campus.  I tell them it is the Argon inside.  Other than that, I am probably best known for being totally unknown.  Yes, I am probably the most famous unknown person around.  I enter a room and everyone notices that no one has entered.  It’s a gift.  If you want it, you can have it…from me…to you…

Kher, before I forget the point at which I broke off on a tangent, let me return to the issue of lies that we were fed and the lies that we will feed children.  We will tell them the world is a good place.  We will tell them that people are good.  We will tell them that merit always wins.  We will tell them that happiness comes from being a good person.  We will tell them that things will be fine…yes…things will always be fine…and there is no finer lie than that.

I look around and see what a messed up, crazy, screwed up place this planet is.  If you feel things are better than they have ever been, I wish you would open your eyes and see the world.  I wish you would say you want a world that is good in absolute terms and not just better compared to the world in 1665 – why that year?  It coincides with my birth.

If you still don’t believe me, let me give you some facts.  UNICEF expects 90,000 kids to die of malnutrition in Nigeria – that is 10 kids dying of hunger every hour…in one country.  There are many bad ways of dying.  Hunger is probably one of the worst.  According to UNHCR, 28,300 people are forced to flee their homes every day due to conflict.  Many, children and adults, die while escaping persecution and some are sold into slavery.  WHO estimates that 12.6 million people die every year due to unhealthy environments.  And if you do not believe that man is ruining the environment…let me take a guess…you are the sort of person who avoids going for long walks cause you are scared you will fall off the edge of the Earth…and for the rest of you who are not living in 1096 and have a functioning brain, the statistics are sobering. I could go on but I think you get the point.

To be clear (clarity becoming a trend here?) the objective of giving you the facts was not to play politics here or ascribe blame or support any cause. I do not care much about politics or causes.  And as far as the blame is concerned.  It really doesn’t matter who is to blame for the state of the world. All that matters is where we go from here. There is much to do…and the world is not becoming a better place.

Now people often say life is not fair…we should just accept things and this inequality will never go away. Funny that most of these people are the privileged ones who will also cry and complain about their first world problems…like parking issues…Me? Never, you’ll never hear me complain about traffic or parking! If you think life being unfair is fair, tell it to the kid who’s dying of hunger or the woman suffering from disease caused by air pollution or the girl unable to go to school because of her gender or the man escaping persecution due to his race.  The world is a bad place and it is not getting better fast enough to help those in pain.

So what am I saying?  Start lying to children?  Turn them into pessimistic cynics like ourselves?  Well we have two choices.  We can either continue lying and tell our children that all is well while we continue to ruin this world for them.  Continue barreling down this destructive path – enjoy our First Class Cabin on the Titanic and watch it go under…glug glug glug…Oops!

Or we can agree to change things.  To make this a world that our children can be proud of.  Aren’t we just tired of blaming the previous generations of ruining the planet?  Can we change it with our generation?  But it involves making sacrifices.  We need to share our abundance with those whose basic needs are not being fulfilled.  Can we shed the negativity and cynicism.  Can we overcome our self esteem issues and believe that can make a difference in this world.  And please…please can we change our trajectory and tell our kids we really tried.  That we tried and succeeded. That we made the world a beautiful reality for them.  That we beat the greed and selfishness that we used to give in to. That unnecessary deaths and suffering are something they won’t have to worry about any more.  That we are the generation they can be proud of.  That all the children in this world are safe from hurt and pain.

Some of you may be rolling their eyes and wondering why you should change cause life is already beautiful for you.  Guess what.  We won’t be discouraged.  We will change the world with or without you.  But we will not judge you.  We will not hurt you.  We will not even pity you.  We will love you despite you working against our objectives.  We will forgive you. And in this forgiveness lies the seed of a beautiful tomorrow.  Forever. Always.

I was born.  I can’t remember. But I am told.
I had dreams in my childhood. Had noble goals.
But just like you, my hours I sold.
For lots of silver and a little gold.
As I got daring. I became bold.
Never caring for others as long as my place I did hold.
I took all I wanted and never did fold.
All of you, around me. We got mental mold.
And time flew by, as the years roll’d.
Now I am waking up to find myself old.
With a truckload of memories and a broken soul.
I accomplished nothing. Buried my dreams in a hole.
And waited for them to turn to diamond…but I only got coal.
Oh, I feel so cold.
I am finally opening my eyes to behold.
A world on fire. People being sold.
They tell me more money will heal me. It’ll make me whole.
“It’s not your problem. Why make it your goal?
You can never change the world. Shut up and play your social role.
Why speak for the poor. Just string them up on a pole.
But not too high. I don’t want their stench. I want it controlled.
Not bothered by their screams. I got my music set above the threshhold.”
Sadly, I have seen the next gen. Like us, they also want to be bankrolled.
There’s no hope for the poor. They will never gain a foothold.
Like their fathers, they will just die of the common cold.
And we will bury them. Make use of them as charcoal.
Enough. Stop it. Before life takes a toll.
I will change the world. Join me or I’ll do it alone.
With or without you. Forever. Always.

“Dear Father, what did you do when the world turned over.  Keep spinning.  Keep spinning. Send us off to sleep.” – James

These pants don’t burn-ly,
4Rookie

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A Royal Silly Post…

“But we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy” – H.O.A. Samuel

Being serious all the time is boring…if you are looking for a serious, deep message in this post…you are out of luck…go watch an Oscar movie or a film with subtitles inside…this post, much like your contribution to people other than yourself, is about…nothing…

I just returned from a conference.  It was quite a disappointment – I thought I was going to a Fine Tech conference to look at the all the latest high end gadgets…you know the stuff that the lesser mortals cannot afford.  But don’t get me wrong.  I am not a snob.  I am one of them…you know…the un-rich people.  I cannot use the term “poor” here cause I think that is no longer politically correct.  If the I did, the PC People – or the PCP (dusty angels?) as they are also called – will be on my case.  In any case, I want to let everyone know, that I am a social activist and do my bit for mankind…just like the rest of you…I “like” any post that supports the downtrodden in this world.   Poverty alleviated…one “like” at a time…all done on my Gold plated, Hermes branded $15,000 iPhone Ten (still have not figured out why is it called iPhone Ex or X or something).

Turns out the conference was about Fintech which is just a fancy term for a new breed of greed…a new wave to enslave…a new rush that’ll crush…basically goodbye greedy bankers…welcome greedy techies…a new class uprising…but this won’t help the poor either…so it’s all up to us and our “likes” on facebook…It must be that each “like” somehow feeds the hungry or builds a shelter for the homeless or something…it’s this new technology…I don’t know how it works but I am sure someone gets a pair of shoes or socks or a Happy Meal each time I “like” a post.

Kher, it was quite an informative conference.  It was another chance for me to learn how little I knew about these things called blockchain and bitcoins.  It is quite fascinating cause the more I read about blockchain, the more I know how little I know.  It is almost like my existing knowledge is receding much like the glaciers and the ozone layer…but don’t worry and keep those cars idling even if no one is in them…it’s only producing carbon monoxide and the oxide tells me there is some oxygen in there somewhere…and anything with oxygen can’t be bad for us…

And bitcoins?  This is virtual money…almost like monopoly money…only difference is that monopoly money has a real playing board with fake property backing it…the bitcoin only has a real moron backing it.  This is also known as cryptocurrency because this is the currency that will drive you to a crypt…yours…but these bitcoins are going up in value almost faster than my cholesterol level.  So I went around and asked a number of knowledgeable people at the conference about the factors they thought were driving the bitcoin valuation…most of them just said it was demand…but no, high demand is not the cause…it is simply the response to some fundamental factor driving this demand…else it is much like the place where bitcoin investors live…a bubble…but what do I know…I’m just speculating…or are they doing it?

But this post is not about boring topics like bitcoins and smart contracts.  It is about my hotel experience at the conference.  I was so excited – I was going to a Fine Tech conference and the guy at the hotel reception told me I was getting a room with a king sized bed.  I was so happy…this was a real VIP experience.  But then a thought hit me…ouch…kings come in all sizes.  What if this was a bed made for a small sized king…would I fit?  Would it be too small?  If he was thin, would it be too narrow. I told the hotel reception that I did not want a king sized bed…being an ordinary citizen, I wanted a normal sized bed instead.  The guy gave me a strange look and then moved to the next customer…

I reached my room and realized this “king sized” bed was a joke.  The bed was a regular sized bed – just bigger.  So I looked it up on the web to learn that King and Queen sized beds were just terms to indicate an extra large and large sized bed – and there’s no serf or peasant sized bed either.  How confusing is that.  Imagine buying clothes with those labels…Would you ever ask a store clerk for Queen sized boxers or King sized jeggings?  Why not call beds XL, L, M, S and XS.  What moron decided on the bed sizes.  I bet it was the same guy who told Starbucks to call the coffee Tall, Grande and Venti (or Wenti for me).

Once in the room, I watched some TV and realized it was getting late.  I needed to sleep.  And that is where I ran into my next challenge.  Finding all the light switches.  Now normal households have light switch panels that control most of the lights in a room.  But not in hotels.  It seems that the light switches have been placed strategically using some secret illuminati code.  Just as soon as you think you have found all the switches, you realize there is some light still on somewhere in the room.  The last thing you want is a scavenger hunt before going to bed…or maybe that’s not the last thing you want…who cares…the point is that you do not want to search for all the light switches and sometimes there are multiple ones for the same light.  God help you if you are OCD…and the OCD people know what I am talking about.

Having overcome the light challenge, I got into bed and fell asleep.  I got up a few hours later feeling cold.  I was partially covered with the blanket. I pulled at the blanket to cover myself but it wouldn’t move.  It was as if someone had superglued part of the blanket to the king’s bed.   Trying not to wake up completely and use the sleep momentum to return to my slumber party, I kept tugging at the blanket but it just didn’t budge.  It was as if housekeeping had decided to gift wrap the mattress with the blanket.  I somehow remembered Pythagoras and his blessed theorem to figure out the solution was not to fight the system but to just lie diagonally on the bed and return to sleep. 4Rookie 1 – Evil Housekeeping 0.

But getting back to sleep was almost impossible.  The bed was extra soft.  I felt like I was Princess Leia sitting on Jabba the Hutt…if you are geek-challenged and do not know what I am talking about, Jabba was this marshmallowesque creature in the original Star Wars trilogy – sigh…all other Star Wars are fake and stoopid!.  I just felt my whole body rolling around on the bed.  I needed s’more sleep (stupid pun)…but no such luck…if only somebody could play me one of my class lectures…it always seems to put people to sleep…

Jet lagged and sleep deprived, I survived the conference and am now back home where I can return to my Human-sized medium bed and go back to my dreams of kingly beds and royal vacations!

“Let me be your ruler, you can call me Queen B.  And baby I’ll rule (I’ll rule I’ll rule I’ll rule).  Let me live that fantasy” – E.M.L.Y. O’Connor, J Little

Royal Serf-ly,
F

Humanity Lost

“Making a living and making a life that’s worthwhile are not the same thing. Living the good life and living a good life are not the same thing.” (R Fulghum)

Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite writers.  OK, to be honest (rarity in my life…both, honesty and the desire to be honest), I do not read much and do not have many writers to choose from so when I say he’s my fave, it probably doesn’t mean much in the world of people who read 500+ paged books.  I tried telling him that as long as his books are easy to read and one does not require to attend an elite school to understand what he’s saying, he will not get the “Oooh” appeal or the “Aaah” awards he truly deserves.

In one of his essays, he explains the difference between what you do for a living and what you do to live.  Sadly most of us, when asked about what we do, we always talk about what we do to make a living.  It is just one of those things.  It is a social norm.  Imagine what a strange conversation it would be if a person after explaining his life mission of making snapchat 0.3493 seconds faster for the service of mankind, asked me what I did for a living and I replied with I breathe and eat and sit – it’s no coincidence that I chose these three since I am sitting, eating as I write and as far as I can tell, I am breathing.  (If not, then I am dead and this is one mindblowing out-of-body experience – also, they lied…there is no tunnel here.)  If I mentioned these three, the person would give me a strange look and leave.

Our social interactions are so meaningless and almost scripted these days.  Let me prove it to you.  Ask the next person you meet how he or she is doing.  I can bet you that 9 out of 10 times we will hear a “good” or “fine”.  And in that 1 instance where the person says “Not good” and starts to explain how they are really doing, we lose interest in the first 10 seconds and we start thinking of ways to escape this boring, whiny person.  What a waste of a question.  If an alien landed on Earth tomorrow and saw us indulging in this moronic greeting, they would be amazed at such a useless practice.  If you are thinking that the aliens are already among us, then please know that you are that boring, whiny person.

Kher, this post is not about our cultural norm of asking meaningless questions.  It is about how we have stopped caring about one another…yawn…here he goes again…yes, here I go again…and pretty much on my own, it seems.  I look around and I find that we are getting increasingly self focused and busy in our own lives.  We are always in a rush. I don’t know where we are going but we are always so busy.  Never have time to help others.  Our patience has mysteriously vanished, much like my hairline…OK so there is nothing mysterious about it…my hairline or our patience? Probably both!

I heard two things recently that made me very sad.  The first was that each glass of pomegranate juice contains 31g of sugar.  What? No wonder I am not losing weight – I had a glass of pomegranate juice a week or so back but after learning it has so much sugar, I have decided to quit.  Some people told me that it has good sugar in it and not the bad sugar but who am I to judge and take sides in this battle between sugars.   Although I have been assured it was a sweet battle with no bitterness (too corny?).  In any case, now I am just having unsweetened water with my daily fix of Big Mac and Fries.  Hopefully, my weight will get back under control.

So that was the first thing that made me sad.  I miss my pomegranate juice.   The second sad thing I heard was when a close friend told me about the time she stopped to help a motorcyclist who had slipped and fallen on the ground.  She parked and gave the man some water.  While she was doing that, a car pulled up and some guy, assuming she was somehow at fault, yelled at her and drove off.  If the person was really that concerned, shouldn’t he have gotten out to ask the motorcyclist if he needed help?  But then again, without such useless morons in this world, life would get boring…so Thank you, Mr. Potty Mouth Car Driver – keep swearing!

I have met bosses who are so caught up with work that they are unable to take out time to console stressed out subordinates.  While I understand work stress and how rushed life has become in the corporate world, I am saddened to hear that we put work ahead of human beings in need.  Are we so busy now that we cannot take out 10 minutes to help out a person in need?  Are we putting work and success ahead of humanity?  Or is it that we are now commodities in our jobs and if we slow down, another corporate slave would step in and take our place.

Another friend who has done extremely well by corporate standards once told me that he had stopped enjoying the little things he used to take pleasure in and that he had no patience for people who could not keep up with him.  He used to be such a fun person.  Single minded pursuit of corporate success does that to us.  It kills our ability to empathize.

And it is not just in the cutthroat corporate sector.  I have met teachers and professors who just want to teach and not have to deal with the emotional needs of students.  I have heard academics refuse to participate in activities that do not contribute to their promotion.  Wasn’t this one of the noble professions? When did we lose sight of our goal and turn into mercenaries?

The world becomes a sad place when people put money and careers ahead of others.  We value our time in terms of dollars & cents and not in terms of the positive impact we have on society.  I find it hard to understand why we would not be willing to spend a little time to help others despite work pressures.  But then, maybe there is some wisdom to what Fulghum said.  We are reaching out for THE good life and not a good life.   They keep selling us the myth of upward mobility, the carrot to keep us running.  Humanity is dying – try to come to the funeral…unless you are busy with work.

“You know the world is headed for hell. Say your goodbyes if you’ve got someone you can say goodbye to.” – K Cook, P Ducette

Save Humanity-ly,
4Rookie

The Downside of Reason

“I’m quite stressed about being so relaxed” – Anon

I read the above quote somewhere and I cannot remember who said it so I cannot give the person credit for it. If you are the one who said it and are reading this, please try to let the world know you said it and the easiest way is to probably change your name to Anon. But the point is that I am quite relaxed about life. I am stress free!

OK, so that is not completely true. There are at least three things really that stress me out. The first is public speaking. Unfortunately, public speaking is an integral part of my job so I cannot get away from it. The second thing is travel. Again, in this age of globalization and working in a foreign country, travel is a big part of my life. The third source of stress for me is driving and finding parking. Now you may find that funny or strange or strangely funny but driving/parking really is a significant cause of stress in my life. Once again, I am sad to say that where I live, driving and parking can get quite challenging due to differences in how traffic rules are interpreted. To give you an example, I am the sort of person who would much rather go to a mall early morning just to find parking, take a cab back home and then return in another cab when the mall opens knowing my ride is safely parked for me to get back in. Now this may seem insane and those of you who are addicted to reason will argue that I should simply take a cab to and back from the location – but don’t try to understand me…I am beyond reason.

And this brings me to the reason why, despite these source of stress, I am relaxed about life. I simply do not use reason to explain everything around me. I am free from the limits of reason. My mind works (or doesn’t work) absent of rationality. So this begs the question, why would reason cause stress to people.

Here is an excerpt from a poem I came across. It perfectly captures the essence of what I am saying.

“If you attempt
to comprehend life’s value with the intellect,
or understand the significance of every experience with rational thought,
or surmise the essence of space, time, and being with abstract mind
—all will escape you at once.” (B Thompson)

To really understand what is going on, let me give you the 4Rookie history of reason. Many, many (perhaps add one more “many” for good measure) years ago, man lived without reason. This was a life where anything was possible. There were no limits to what we could or could not do. We were only limited by our ability to think of what could be achieved. It was a strange world that existed. But much like all good things, this too had to end because of one bad egg…OK, so he was not really an egg but was definitely bad.

Getting back to our history lesson, there came a man who refused to exist in a world where all things were possible. For reasons I will not try to understand, he wanted to put limits on what was possible and what was nonpossible (the term “impossible” had not been coined)…to be clear, unpossible was also a term but it meant to undo what had become possible which is clearly not what he was trying to do.

Kher, this person discovered that there existed an alternate to living limitlessly. It was a life of reason. He wanted to have an explanation for everything that happened and if there was anything that could not be explained, well, it should not happen. He was flying when he decided this but as soon as he realized that man should not be able to fly, he dropped out of the sky. Unfortunately for us, he survived the fall and lived to start the “Reason’s In Season” club.

The guys in the club just wanted to do something to sound cool and be different from others – much like the paleo diet these days…btw the paleo diet was so mainstream at the time. So this group decided to make it fashionable to use reason – to be fair, there was little available in terms of clothes so fashion had to involve anything but garment. Much like any addiction, this love for reason grew and turned from a crutch to a wheelchair until it was finally a shackle and these people found themselves bound by reason. Sadly, all that could not be, stopped being and only things that could be, continued to be. That marked the end of a limitless world. Infinity shifted from just being to being a concept. And man became prisoner to reason.

Over time the club gained strength to a point where we are now surrounded by people who try to use reason on everything. It is their nature to apply reason to almost all things that happen in their life and they think this curse is a good thing. So what’s the problem with that? Two issues:

First, reason demands deliberate action and/or intent. It means that these people will try to ascribe cause (blame?) on the actions of others when things don’t go as planned…even when it was something that just happened because that’s what things do…they happen!

I have seen it cause stress, anger and bitterness whether directed towards others or even oneself. Clearly not a good outcome. We need to accept that sometimes things happen for no reason and I find people struggle to do that. If you can do it, the world makes a lot more sense in that things stop making sense and one finds peace.

Second, man was a beautiful being but as he developed a desire to explain everything around, the magic in the world disappeared and he started putting limits on what could or could not be. We have now reached a point where when someone talks about dreams they want to pursue, others offer a “reality check” and give them many reasons why the dream will fail. All they need to know is that “a dream is simply an answer to a question we have not yet learned to ask!” (Mulder – X-Files)

Then when people achieve the impossible, does that mean we have discovered luck? Not really. Luck is simply something we use to explain good things that happen to people whom we feel do not deserve it or when bad things happen to us cause of course we do not deserve it either. And sometimes, just sometimes, in the moments when we are pretending to show humility, we will say good things happened to us due to luck. Who’re we fooling…deep down inside, we still believe that we deserved it!

Reason tells me that a world full of people able to do anything is perhaps not the way to go. So yes, maybe reason, as a tool, has its advantages but much like cheap cologne, it is OK when taken in small doses…go crazy with it and you will find things start to stink. Clearly reason has to be used reasonably. Try to apply a limited intellect to everything and things stop making sense.
I believe that sometimes things just happen because they do. There is no reason or cause for it.

I have an “unreasonable” willingness to go with the flow for I know I am not in control. I have embraced the limits of my existence. And in so doing, I am part of a system where anything can happen. I exist in a state of super awesomeness for I am truly limitless!

“I believe in a long prolonged derangement of the senses to attain the unknown…Although I live in the subconscious…our pale reasoning hides the infinite from us” – Jim Morrison

Unpossible-ly,
4Rookie

Storytellers

“I sing myself to sleep. A song from the darkest hour” – James

When I was much older than I currently am, I met a gentleman who had an amazing skill.  He could tell stories.  Now you may be thinking, what’s so great about story telling.  Well let me tell you a story…no, in fact I will tell you 3 stories that offer you a moment to reflect and understand life…your life…where you are coming from, where you are headed and how to get there before you get somewhere else.

But before I tell you the stories, I need to explain why story telling is important in life.  Over the years, as I have gotten dumber, I have realized telling stories makes one sound (1) funnier, (2) more intelligent and (3) deeper than one really is.  It’s just one of those things I have learned to do and am still trying to master it.  Being the generous soul that I am, I will share some of my story telling tips with you.

First, have a story to tell…duh!!! While your ability to jump into an answer without really knowing what to say may be a viable option on my exams, it is never a good strategy for the more important things in life…like telling stories to impress people.  The last thing you want to do is to “discover” the story as you are narrating it.  Chances are, you will end up sounding like an extreme dumbonistic moron.

The second tip is to ensure that you do not over commit.  How many times have you been stuck in a situation where someone offers to tell you the funniest joke ever and once the joke is told, you have to force a smile or laugh cause it was not the funniest joke ever.  Awkward!

Kher, if you still want to tell the funniest joke ever, here it is…

“A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says: ‘What the hell was that all about?’”

And if you didn’t find that funny, you have issues cause Google said it was the funniest joke ever and Google never lies…if you are still not convinced and want more proof, you should know that this was ranked the funniest joke in a study run by scientists at Oxford University…don’t they have better things to do?  Like write a new “New Dictionary” or compete in water sports with other similar schools or something?  If you are the really irritating type who doesn’t take things at face value, the methodology for the study involved telling jokes to LSE students and getting them to rank these.  Seriously? Economists ranking jokes? Right, cause they are known for their amazing sense of humor?  What next, they’ll come up with the best business schmoozing techniques from Engineering students?  Oxford Shmoxford…Google clearly got it wrong!

Here’s the next tip.  Make the story sound interesting even if it is the most boring tale ever…especially if it is the most boring story ever!  You are not a standup act and the story cannot be a one-liner…it needs some motivating, some build-up, a pause and then the climax. Also remember that you are not Tolkien and your story should not compete with Lord of the Rings…it’s tough but you need to hit that sweet spot between a one-liner story and an epic tale.

The fourth rule of story telling is the most important one and it sets the great story tellers apart from the good ones.  It should be known by anyone looking to make storytelling a life skill.  But…yes, there is always a but…I cannot tell you this rule.  It is something you must discover for yourself.  I know it sucks but that’s the first rule of life.  Never trust people.  Or animals.  Or anything you rely on…even your car…life is a series of happy disappointments stringed together by fleeting moments of happiness.

Before you get excited about the promise of fleeting happiness in your life, I want to tell you a few stories that I have collected over my time.  To be honest (which I seldom am…an old bad habit from my banking daze), these are not stories from my life but are stories I have come across during my life.  So near story experiences.

Story 1 – The Master and the Scorpion

There was a Master and his Student fishing by a lake.  While they were waiting for a fish to bite, the Master noticed a scorpion in the water and it seemed to be drowning.  The Master, without saying a word, waded into the water and picked up the scorpion and brought him to the shore.  As he was putting down the scorpion, he felt a sting and gently put the scorpion down and took the venom out of the wound.

He then went back to fishing.  A little while later, he noticed the same scorpion trying to get back into the lake and once again, it had difficulty staying afloat.  The Master, again, jumped in and brought the scorpion back to safety.  As before, when he was putting the scorpion on dry rock, he felt a sharp sting in his finger and had to get the venom out of the bite.  As he was doing so, his Student asked him, “Master, why do you keep saving the scorpion cause stinging you is in his nature.”

And the Master replied, “And saving him is in mine!”.

Story 2 – Student on the other side of the river

There was a Master on one side of a deep river.  As he was walking along, he noticed his Student on the other side waving to him.  He stopped and asked the Student what he wanted.  His Student shouted out, “Master, how do I get to the other side?”

The Master stopped for a moment, thought about it and replied with a puzzled look, “You are on the other side” and calmly walked away.

Story 3 – Master and the Tiger

One day, a farmer was walking through the woods when he heard a loud roar and noticed a large, vicious tiger rushing towards him.  Realizing that staying there meant certain death, he started running in the opposite direction.  He kept running for the tiger refused to give up the chase.  Soon he reached a clearing and saw that he was at the edge of a high cliff.  With the tiger rapidly approaching him, the farmer noticed a strong vine going over the cliff and he quickly started climbing down it.

The tiger came to the edge and stood there roaring.  The man thought about jumping down but the drop to the bottom of the ravine meant certain death.  As he was holding on to the vine, a couple of rats came out of the side of the cliff and started gnawing on the vine, just a few feet above his head.

While this was happening, the man noticed a wild strawberry growing along the cliff.  He gently plucked it, took a big bite out of it and smiled.  It was wildly delicious

Now I could start giving you a detailed analysis of each story and what it means.  I could tell you that the first one is about how no matter what others do, you should never give up the goodness in your nature.  Others act badly, perhaps, due to their flaws.  You should never develop the same flaws and should always return evil with kindness…and make kindness a central part of your nature.

I could also tell you that the second one is about perspectives and how you should always think of yourself from the other person’s perspective…and how they would perceive things.  And the third is about how no matter how bad things get, there is always time to slow down and enjoy the goodness of life and smile!!!

But I won’t.  I will let you read the stories, think about them and hopefully get your own beautiful message from it.  In life, be a story teller.  But how does one become that? The key is in listening.  Speaking to other people and listen to them…for in this listening is the healing and the grieving.  When you listen to them, you are helping them heal.  And remember that whenever you complain about your life, there are so many people in a worse situation than you and that they would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

“Now I wonder what my life is gonna mean if it’s gone” – R. Thomas

Tale spun-ly,
4rookie

I’ll take a VIP with an extra V on the side

“Things that I’ve loved. The things that I’ve lost. The things that I’ve held sacred that I’ve dropped.  I won’t lie no more, you can bet.  Don’t want to learn what I need to forget.” C Cornell

I have a little secret to share.  I am not from around here.  I mean I look a lot like I am from here.  When I go to places, they always assume I am from no where but here.  Truth be told (to be honest, I try to avoid telling the truth as much as possible…or was that a lie?), I am not like the rest of you.  People have always told me that I am strange but I think they are saying that just to make me happy.  So I always take these compliments with a pinch of salt.  There are two problems I have developed due to this; first, I have developed an addiction to salt (major health issues) and second, I now have a pinching habit.  It started with pinching salt, moved on to pinching things like pens, pencils, keys etc. and now it has come to pinching people.  So beware!

Kher, returning to the issue of not being from here.  Rumor has it that my parents found me in a field.  How do I know this?  Cause I am spreading the rumor.  In any case, what I am trying to “rumorize” is that, much like superman, I am an alien adopted by an Earth family.  Unlike superman, I came from a no-frills planet and have no super powers. Why am I telling you this – two reasons – maybe someone from Marvel comes across this post and decides to put me in a movie as the evil smart.  What’s evil smart? It is also a villain but many notches below evil genius.  Second reason, is that it will explain my actions.  I am an alien who is trying to blend in.  I am just trying to be a person.

You’re probably thinking (otherwise you would be a butterfly) so what’s the big deal about that.  The problem is that I live in a world of VIPs of Very Important Persons.  And that is fine for I am not one of them.  I know my place in life.  There are Persons, then Important Persons and finally there are Very Important Persons.  But really.  Are these third category persons really that important?  If they were, why would they need to announce it and carry banners to remind the world that they are very important?  Shouldn’t their very importance shine through and make us awe in wonder.

But that is not the issue.  The other day I was driving past a stadium where an event was being held and I saw the usual signs for VIPs and lesser mortals…and then saw something that turned my world upside down (or maybe it was part of the Earth’s regular spin cycle).  It was something that gave me the sickening feeling where the heart drops into the stomach and starts mixing with the body’s food processor – that’s one way to love your food.  I saw a sign that said “Entrance for VVIPs”.  What was that?  An entrance for Very “Very Important Persons”?  Did this breed of people even exist?  Or was it just something people had made up…you know like evolution and global warming?

I just stopped in my tracks – yes I wear track pants these days cause my regular pants don’t fit me anymore – and read it again.  It was definitely V VIP.  Had I just been demoted in societal hierarchy?  Was it their way of saying I was less than a person now?  Would I have to fly cargo now?  Should I be driving a car?  Would I still have to pay taxes? Did I even exist to the world? To test the last one, I took off my shoes & socks and started running around – I was soon stopped and given a ticket for indecent exposure – so yes, I exist – I got that question answered.  But back to the main issue.  What was this VVIP?

Would the VVIPs feet even touch the ground?  Did it have feet? Was it even in human form?  Did it float through ether?  Could it travel through time? Would I be able to see it?  What magical powers did it possess? Could it get rid of war and hunger and poverty?  I am sure a V VIP, if it existed, would be a game changer.  Turns out I did not have to wonder for very long.  Much like Apple with the iPhone 7, it was just a marketing ploy where some VIPs were rebranded and reclassified to make them feel better about their sad lives – but they were no different from the other VIPs.

But imagine the shock waves it must have sent through the now, second tier VIP circles – yes, VIPs think the universe circles around them so they live in circles – all of a sudden they would be going to events where they are not more important than the actual event. Someone had created a new category of people who were Important-er than them.  I can imagine some of the mere VIPs would have stormed out of the arena if only they could read the sign saying EXIT.

And that is the issue with our world today.  We live in a VIP society.  Everyone is trying to claim superiority over another – through power, wealth, possessions.  There is this race to get ahead and own the next big thing.  It is a world of I-me-myself.  I have had people tell me that the poor deserve to be poor since there are sufficient opportunities in this world and they have earned their status in society through laziness.  This attitude is not just naive, it is bordering on being repulsive and abhorrent.  Class mobility is not something that is available for all.  If you are reading this post, then you are already in the top % of the world’s population – it is very dangerous for us to hold the view that the disadvantaged people deserve that place in life or that life is unfair so they should just suck it up and accept their reality.

If anything, these disadvantaged people should be treated as the VVIPs of this world.  We must dedicate our lives to making this an equity based existence so that we live in harmony.  One of my next few posts will be about an idea that, much like your perception of how good you are as a human being cause you feed the poor and give them employment as your serfs, is just a thought and not real.

However, I am a dreamer and if I can find enough dreamers, we can fight our nature to be greedy and selfish and we can create a society with equity.  Then again, maybe I am an alien and this place cannot exist on your planet.  Elon Musk…send me home…please…

“And on I read until the day was gone; And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done; For all that I’ve blessed, and all that I’ve wronged. In dreams until my death I will wander on.” – C Cornell (1964-2017) – RIP!

Just Ordinary-ly,
4Rookie

The Lighter Side of Traveling LapTopless

“You’re the voice, try and understand it.  Make a noise and make it clear.” – J Farnham

Recently there has been a lot of back and forth about the ban on traveling with laptops in our carry on bags.  People are screaming that carrying laptops and iPads is part of their inalienable rights.  That the Wright Brothers intended man to travel with personal electronics and no one has the right to take this Wright right away.

Seriously?  I think all one has to do is look up to the stars to realize just how insignificant we really are and how these things are so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – but luckily the smog these days keeps the stars at bay…and we continue to think we are the reason for everything.

Kher, I was recently asked to participate in an MUN debate about the ban – and my task was to be the Delegate of US.  It was my job to drop any personal views I may have and defend the ban from a logical standpoint.  Clearly, the organizers had not done their homework and thought I was going to use logic as a crutch to present my argument.  Cute.

Here is what I presented to the attendees.

*~*

Let me start by thanking Mun for inviting to this important event.  I have been advised to refer to myself in the third person, as the Delegate of US.  Pretty much like Elmo.  In any case, an apology is required as the Delegate of US was unable to conduct research for this debate.  The reason is that the Delegate of US…wait…this is a real mouthful.  Hereinafter, please refer to the Delegate of US by the formal MUN acronym, DofUS (pron. doofus).  Yes, so DofUS was traveling last week and was supposed to work on this debate but the airline insisted on taking away DofUS’ laptop.  It was about some new rule that was being enforced.  Obviously, DofUS did not know much about this and could not research the topic.

In any case, people may tell you that the laptop rule is there to reduce the chances of terrorism.  If true, there is no point in discussing this as none of you have the necessary clearance to talk about the actionable intelligence that went into the justification of this ban.

Now that DofUS and other Dofii are here, we might as well talk about some other reasons that may have been at play for this ruling.  These are reasons so uncomfortable that no one is willing to talk about…it takes a real DofUS to discuss these:

  1. Saving $ and creating jobs.  In a recent study done by the BiGG4 (not to be confused with the Big4 accounting firms) – the Bigg4 is an alternate research firm that looks at hot issues and comes up with completely made up numbers.  In any case, the study showed that firms spend $97 million every year in upgrading their managers from economy to business class so that they can work on projects.  By banning laptops and iPads, US companies will save enough money to pay the salaries for either 4.2 CEOs or 1,204.4 entry level employees.
  1. Supporting the movie industry: A recent poll showed that people working on their machines on a flight are less likely to watch the inflight movies.  Instead these people are 84% more likely to go home and illegally stream these movies and shows.  As a result, the MPAA lobbied hard with the US Government and convinced them to enforce this rule to help reduce movie piracy.
  1. Fight Procrastination:  The US suffers $2.3 billion every year in lost productivity due to managerial procrastination.  A very random survey of business class travelers showed that 93% of all laptops users are really pretending to be working to (1) justify the upgrade to Business Class and (2) look cool.  The remaining 7% are actually working on projects that they needed to complete before the flight but they could not due to procrastination.  This is an effort to heal the people and increase productivity.
  1. Wealth Redistribution:  Now that airport staff knows that most travelers will be storing their electronics in their checked in luggage with those $3 locks, we expect the baggage marked with Business Class tags to be targeted for goodies.  This is an indirect form of taxation to help with the Government’s mission of wealth redistribution.

DofUS hopes that all of you have a better idea of the thinking behind this ban and it is expected that all DofII will support the ban in a bigly way.  DofUS has been told this is a tremendous ban and all the people support it making it the biggest ban in the history of the world.

In the end, DofUS would like to give you a heads up that the government is now looking into the threat posed by the underwear bomber.  Travel responsibly!

Thank you.

*~*

Needless to say, these facts were received with complete disbelief but that is ok – it will take time for the new abnormal to set in and soon people will learn to adjust to it…like they did to the regulations about 100 ml or less liquid containers in carry on bags.  Man is very flexible and learns to accept inconveniences…albeit with some grumbling…

But given all the hard made-up facts I mentioned, the next time you are traveling and do not have your laptop or iPad with you…consider yourself helping the average man and the below average man-ager (aka banker)…it is the least you can do by not doing it…

“Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?  ‘Cause all I ever have, Redemption song” – B Marley

De-electronicized-ly,
4Rookie