San Jose States: good times, not so good times, and the need to live through them regardlesst

The Best is Yet to Come
Frank Sinatra
The Best Is Yet To Come

Out of the tree of life, I just picked me a plum
You came along and everything started to hum
Still it's a real good bet, the best is yet to come

The best is yet to come, and won't that be fine
You think you've seen the sun, but you ain't seen it shine

Wait till the warm-up is underway
Wait till our lips have met
Wait till you see that sunshine day
You ain't seen nothin' yet

The best is yet to come, and wont that be fine
The best is yet to come, come the day that your mine

Come the day that your mine
I'm gonna teach you to fly
We've only tasted the wine
Were gonna drain that cup dry

Wait till your charms are right, for the arms to surround
You think you've flown before, but you ain't left the ground

Wait till you're locked in my embrace
Wait till I hold you near
Wait till you see that sunshine place
There ain't nothin like it here

The best is yet to come, and won't that be fine
The best is yet to come, come the day that your mine

I went to SJSU yesterday. It was an interesting trip, as usual. Seeing Jean is always good but walking around the campus always beckons memories, some happy and some not so much. But what's important is that you are able to live with the memories, good or bad, as they have shaped who you are and what you've become.

Running away always seems like such a dirty thing to say you're going to do or actually do.... But I've realized that sometimes running away is exactly what the doctor ordered. Clean slates are not easy to come by and there are times when the only way to get the slate cleaned up is to be in a completely different place.  This also made me think and reinforced my choice of Georgia over anywhere else:

"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body--but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, 'holy shit! what a ride!'"

I think that this is one area of life where I've been lax and allowed my life to be OBE (Overcome by events). Why didn't I quit Chico as soon as things shit started hitting the fan? Now it's the time to  actually ask myself why did I deprive myself of the opportunity to grow... I mean sure, I'm reluctant to change but that doesn't mean that change is not necessary or even desired at times, right? How many things didn't I do because of where I was or what I was doing?

Seize the moment and live life to its fullest. Take all those little (and not so little) thins that you've wanted to do and do them.  Some of the things I've had in mind are on my bucket list, but it boils down to this: The new theme for me is to challenge myself and live life to its fullest


Listening:

  • My Kitchen Sink Mix on my iTunes
  • Cowboy Bebop soundtracks
  • Cut both ways - Gloria Estefan
  • Frank Sinatra's Pandora Channel

Reading:

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
  • Rayuela - Julio Cortazar
  • The Way of the Warrior (DS 9)

Doing:

  • Getting the shit beat out of me @ the gym
  • Planning ahead and doing WCS (worst case scenario analysis)

Watching:

  • Appleseed movie
  • Appleseed ex machina
  • Cowboy Bebop Ep. 10: Ganymede Elegy
  • The last 10 Episodes of DS 9

If you do good things the karma will come to you

http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/beyond/2008/summer/an-enduring-legacy.shtml

twitter clued me in that Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who gave The Last Lecture died today at 47.  Besides the fact that he was awesome in the way he delivered his presentation and the way that people really cared about him, he has also made me think and reflect about myself and about where I want to be and who I want to be.

I keep coming back to his phrase: "If you do good thing the karma will come to you." Over the past couple months I've always questioned whether I did the right thing or not. A lot of people have reassured me that I did that I did make a difference in my work with them over the years and that it did make a difference for those people whom I touched.  I have to admit, I'm not good at accepting compliments any more than I'm good at giving them... but you really have to ask yourself if these people are just doing to be nice or if they are saying it because they mean it.  I now choose to believe the later eve though for the longest time I've believed the earlier

And the Karma is coming my way, in the span of 72 hours, a friend tells me the job at Georgia hasn't been filled, I get and interview for said job and another friend asks me to send them a resume and a letter of interest for either training or technical documentation contract jobs.

I am more certain and hopeful about the future. Patience is a virtue and one that I should practice more often. These two quotes have been with me for years, and yet the older I get the more I tend to forget them:

"In Japan we have the phrase Shoshin, which means 'beginner's mind.' The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind. Our 'original mind' includes everything within itself. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few."

-- Shunryu Suzukin

Perhaps the most important part of the quote below is the second paragraph. I have not remembered that you can't please everyone all the time. You did your best and if that wasn't enough, I don't really want to be part of such a team, particularly if they don't tell you where you failed.

The things that you learn in maturity aren't simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You learn not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent but pays in character.

You come to understand that most people are neither for you or against you; they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you -- a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.

-- From a speech: John W. Gardner

Keep the faith
Bon Jovi (Crossroads)

Mother mother tell your children
That their time has just begun
I have suffered for my anger
There are wars that cant be won

Father father please believe me
I am laying down my guns
I am broken like an arrow
Forgive me
Forgive your wayward son

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, mother)
Everybody needs somebody to hate
(please believe me)
Everybody's bitching
cause they cant get enough
And its hard to hold on
When there's no one to lean on

Faith: you know you're gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don't let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Tell me baby when I hurt you
Do you keep it all inside
Do you tell me als forgiven
And just hide behind your pride

Everybody needs somebody to love
(mother, father)
Everybody needs somebody to hate
(please don't leave me)
Everybody's bleeding
cause the times are tough
Well its hard to be strong
When there's no one to dream on

Faith: you know you're gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Now you know is not too late
Oh you got to keep the faith
Faith: don't let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Walking in the footsteps
Of society's lies
I don't like what I see no more
Sometimes I wish that I was blind
Sometimes I wait forever

To stand out in the rain
So no one sees me cryin'
Trying to wash away the pain
Mother father

There's things I've done I cant erase
Every night we fall from grace

Its hard with the world in yours face
Trying to hold on, trying to hold on

Faith: you know you're gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don't let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to keep the faith
Faith: now its not too late
Try to hold on, trying to hold on
Keep the faith

On reinventing yourself


I've always fought against memories of the past. In doing so I've deprived myself of the chance to actually enjoy what they mean.

What's the first thing you remember when listening to Guns 'N' Roses' Sweet Child of Mine? To me it's Slash and his guitar at the beginning of the song.

I don't know about you but but music, Naginata and sometimes being a mean and nasty son of a bitch is so liberating.  Fuck the consequences and just go with it

I've decided that this is the last time I talk to the person I've been having problems with and then let the chips fall as they may.

Part of reinventing yourself is to keep yourself flexible and nimble. I heard news @work that put the June conference into perspective. Now it makes sense why I have to take vacation time to go and it defused that piece to the point where it's a non-issue. What brought my anger level up 'though is the fact that where I want to go professionally does not match where upper management wants me to go and no one has seen fit to tell me so.  I had to pry it out of my supervisor today and I know that he's as uncomfortable with this whole situation as I am but he really can't do much about it either. SO I have to decide if my peace of mind is worth calling attention to myself and the possible consequences of that action.


I can't get this song from my head and haven't been able to for a while. The emphasis to me is in the chorus:

We're fighting for the gods of war
But what the hell we're fighting for
We're fighting with the gods of war
But I ain't gonna fight no more

The first step is to take inventory of yourself, your priorities and your goals (both short and long term).

The last few posts have talked a lot about priorities, goals and commitments. For more details see Sometimes I just wishPriorities, realizations and commitments, and Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish so now I think  it's time to do an inventory of who I really am and take another, more serious, look at where I want to be or perhaps who I don't want to be.

I want to be someone whom people can trust, and not be afraid to approach; I want those around me to know that, if I see a reciprocal effort, I'll put 110% effort into our friendship. People who try to, in their words, "be nice" have a problem that I don't want to be a part of: in being  nice they deprive their friends of the opportunities to change and grow. I tend to be opinionated, sometimes too opinionated for my own good, but I'll always do my best to be open and honest with my friends.

I think that we all want to work on something we enjoy and can grow to love. The disagreements are more in the shape and nature of what that job is and the areas of responsibilities that it's associated with "the dream job". Some things are about the job itself and others  are more about what I want and the challenges I want to stretch me professionally.

  • I want flexibility;
  • I want room for growth: not be pigeonholed into one specific area but to be allowed to branch out as needed to get stuff done and not get bored to tears;

Perhaps that's the key to reinventing yourself.... To keep enough versions of you around that each one of them can take whatever is coming your way.

Am I really ready to do that? Am I willing to embrace the flexibility I need not to be afraid of whatever is coming?

One of the things that I've never learned all the way through is that there is no gain without pain.... intellectually I can understand it but I don't think I've ever internalized it and the fear still stops me when it's time to move on. I've said it before that I couldn't understand why was it that I didn't trust my instincts when they told me it was time to move on. Being totally blunt

I was watching, again, the series final for JAG: Fair Winds and Following Seas. The last scene when Bud flips the coin and everyone  keeps staring to see who is going to have to give up their life dreams to achieve happiness.

As I've said before what do you have to give up in order to get what you really want.

Being totally honest, I don't know if I could give up my job and be totally happy. I know I don't want crap like what happened today to repeat itself but I also know that  I'm not ever going to be happy without being able to exercise the atrophied skill sets.

I've hardly done any training or presentations since I moved to Chico. 10 hours or so in 3 years hardly qualifies as keeping your skills sharp.  I'm afraid that my instructional design and development skills are going the same way.  If you don't use them or at least keep current with the literature I'll loose what little of those skills you have left.

Back to what I want and don't want. So far these are the elements of what I'd want in an "ideal job." I realize that some of these things are not realistic and/or even possible but, hell, we're talking about an ideal so why not? 🙂

  • I want a place where I can actually practice training and instructional design even if it's as a secondary area of responsibility
  • I want a team, not a place where people feel empowered to dictate to other teammates. I've been as guilty about this as anyone and that's what I hate the most about the situation
  • I want a job where the rules are clear from day 1 with room for change, evolution and improvement where it's appropriate. It's not that I'm averse to change, it's just that I want to know when it's coming.
  • Related to the one above is wanting to at least get a voice on what direction my job is going. I know this is totally unrealistic, but it's one worth writing down even if it means that I'm never going to get a job that's 100% satisfactory
  • Communication, communication, communication. Things haven't been put on context and it shouldn't have to be my job to figure out what it is that I'm supposed to be doing.

Listening:

  • Skid Row (Youth gone wild, 18 and life)
  • Linkin Park - iTunes selection
  • Rush - Roll the bones

Reading:

  • Agile web development with Rails
  • Foundation's Edge

Doing:

  • Learning to Program Rails
  • Trying to complete my final paper
  • Outlining my 2 summer writing projects

Watching:

  • Reruns of JAG
  • NCIS
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Sometimes I just wish

There are times when I really wish that I hadn't become such a chicken.  Since when did I become so risk averse? Since when did I stop relishing challenges and started playing it safe?

I think part of the problem is that I live in the here and now without taking into account what the future is. I've always played it like the future is going to become "here and now" soon enough anyway and then it'll be ok to deal with it then, if at all.

Problem is that the lack of planning and foresight means that I'm never quite ready to deal with things that happen in the "here and now." That is no longer acceptable... I have to be more careful as to how I plan for the future and, for once, I have to stick the plan and deal with the consequences.

Personal events have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that planning is becoming more and more important as I move forward with whatever is going to be next. 

Must start planning about summer and how things are going to work when I'm not around the first week in June and the second week in July for conferences, planning for the Bbworld events that I want to be a part of, prepare for Fall to try and see what is it that I need to do to keep me from going insane, plan what's next if UGA doesn't accept me, plan the move in case I am accepted for the PhD program.

I have to admit to a little pettiness in June, not a lot but enough not to feel 100% comfortable with the idea.

Another aspect that has sucked recently is the feeling of betrayal of someone who until recently I considered a friend. It's been hard to adapt to that without wanting to rearrange his face but it's important to move on and plan around the SOB and what he's going to do in the not so distant future. If he conforms to patterns of behavior, he'll come back acting as if nothing had happened and wondering why am I being such an ass.... See, he can do no wrong because he's changing but the rest of the world can do wrong to him, and often do, because we don't adjust to his outlook of the world.

People who claim they have changed, or in this case, to be working on it, are usually the last ones to actually change. I've been told by several people to just forget it and move on. I think I finally accepted it and will do so

Gotta be patient and see how things evolve 🙂

Spending most of a weekend writing a paper is not fun, particularly when it's procrastination that lead to it being written the week before it's due. At least I have the consolation that I have written the paper that was due today ^_^

I've been watching JAG series' finale "Fair winds and following seas" and, like the last time I had it on my DVR and thinking about fate, about how we make our own fate and how things work, or don't work, when we try to push fate in directions in which it doesn't want to go

I know it's a contradiction. I said we make our own fate yet we there are times when we must work against fate to accomplish the really important things in life as long as we don't make a habit out of it. 

Time to start over 🙂

Today (5/6) I'm feeling more keenly than usual the need to reinvent myself.  This time it's not a single-instance event but an ongoing reconstructive surgery. 

It is not an admission that I need change (at least not for the reasons you're thinking) but an acknowledgement that I'm stagnating. A call to make sure that you actually live life and don't let it just run by.

There is a reason for both the lyrics to Days Go By posted elsewhere and the videos I chose for this post.  In their own way they each are a reminder that we need to do things and not let life go by without enjoying it. I also got a friendly prod to actually do things from a friend.

Priorities, realizations and commitments

Priorities

It's not even may and I'm apprehensive as hell. Why is it that the stress level goes up the closer I get to an important date or event? I'm not even close to the damn date and I'm already starting to stress out about the application. I know that once I complete the letter, transcripts and GRE is not going to be under my control. I did the best I can and now it's in other people's hands which is something I most definitely hate. On the other hand, the GRE is my responsibility and something that I need to work hard at

Realizations

"El tiempo pasa, nos vamos poniendo viejos"

I connected with  the children of two of my professors at central. The oldest already graduated from college, the youngest is starting college this fall. I'm just like holly cow! I didn't think that so much time had passed since I last saw them.

When you give feedback

If you feel like you have to give negative feedback at least pretend that the person you're criticizing did something, however small, well. 

Commitments

To my grad school application process

To continue doing my best, regardless of how hard I'm finding it to be

To my health, both mental and physical

 


Listening:

  • Linkin Park
  • Darryl Hall

Reading:

  • The Art of Project Management
  • Managing Humans
  • Wolf's Honour (Awesome Ragnar Blackmane's novel) 

Doing:

  • Getting to the point where I have to motivate myself to do my final project

Watching:

  • Reruns of Jag, NCIS and Power Rangers

To Vegas and Back Again

I went to Vegas for a conference and am back, with a lot of stuff in my mind. I think I've come to the realization that I am going to grad school somewhere in the next 18 months. I want to go to Georgia so badly now, it's kinda scary. But even if I don't get accepted on the first try, I also think it's good to put deadlines in front of me so it'll get my ass in gear to actually do it.

The trip was just amazing... it was a matter of relaxing and soaking in what other people are doing. I may even present next year, if I'm still around, that is.  It was also a time to continue reflecting on where I want to be and how I want to deal with things long-term. School is still the number 1 priority but, if I can get a job where travel is only 30% of the job and where I can ensure success for myself as well as others, then it may not totally conflict with what I want to do, does it?

They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness; the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

From Gen. Douglas McArthur's Last Speech at West Point

WHat the hell, I'll apply and see what happens. It may be for naught, same as grad school, but I'll never know if I don't try.


Listening:

  • SIlvio Rodriguez 
  • Michelle Branch
  • Phil Collins
  • Random Stuff

Reading:

  • Echelon
  • The Art of Project Management

Doing:

  • Working on a website project

Warthicng:

  • Reruns of JAG on my Tivo
  • Serenity
  • Shadow Chronicles
  • Ghost in the shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig on my computer

COA

I remember reading in one of Tom Clancy's books about Special Forces how the commanders prepare Course of Action statements outlining what are their plans and what risk their chosen options entails.  In talking to mom over the weekend I'm thinking I need to put down something to serve in a similar capacity so that my rollercoaster mood won't get me balancing between the different options.

The overall plan is:

    • Do a GRE prep course between late march and May
    • To take the GRE in June and again in October if I have to
    • To complete my application to UGA no later than November 15th
    • To have my UGA application submitted by December 1st
    • If Accepted to move out July 2008
    • Start classes Fall 2008

Part of the problem is that I'm not happy where I'm at right now. There's been a lot of stress, personal and work-related frustration and the inability of moving on on the career path that I want to be in.  I don't know if I have the mental energy to stay and put up with all the unnecessary stress that surrounds me (whether it's self induced or not, that's a different story) which brings the second issue.

If I were to move (not likely but possible) I would have to get used to a brand new job which would take away time from completing the plan outlined above. On the other hand there are things like a job at Simmons College in Boston which sound exactly like I'm searching for and where I would be able to express a fuller range of skills and abilities.

What are the risks of changing plans and moving on to a different job?  As good as I am at w hat I do my mom made a great point; getting used to a new environment takes a lot of energy and you have to be 100% onto what  you're doing or you won't be successful.

So that's the question, do I want to suck it up for another 18 months and then move to school with a clean slate, spend my 4+ years working my ass off and  then have   the option to come back to California and teach; or do I want to move now, suck up another 24 to 30 months of work and then resume pursuing the PhD?

Change of plans

Why UGA and not USU anymore? In looking at the plans for both schools UGA's program is more my style. It'll keep me on track and on target better than a less structured program would. The chorot are smalls and t he structure of the program sounds more conductive to research and teaching.

Dreams
Fleetwood Mac (Rumors)

Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
Its only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat.. drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost

Thunder only happens when its raining
Players only love you when theyre playing
Say... women... they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean... youll know

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
Its only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and...
Have you any dreams youd like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness...
Like a heartbeat... drives you mad...
In the stillness of remembering what you had...
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost

Thunder only happens when its raining
Players only love you when theyre playing
Say... women... they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean... youll know

Jobs @ Stanford

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky -- I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation -- the Macintosh -- a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me -- I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Fight or Flight?

MEREDITH: "Human beings need a lot of things to feel alive."
GEORGE: "Family"
CRISTINA: "Love"
IZZIE: "Sex"
DEREK: "But we only need one thing"
RICHARD: "To actually be alive."
CRISTINA: "We need a beating heart."
ADDISON: "When our heart is threatened"
ALEX: "We respond in one of two ways."
GEORGE: "We either run or-"
IZZIE: "We attack."
RICHARD: "There's a scientific term for this."
ALEX: "Fight..."
ADDISON: "...or flight."
MIRANDA: "It's instinct."
MEREDITH: "We can't control it."
IZZIE: "Or can we?"

That's how it feels... like I'm in an emotional fight or flight mode. I need to step back and really take a hard look at where I am and how do I get to where I want to go. Deciding to go to grad school was, and still is, a good alternative but I need to look at it in the larger context of money, life and happiness The flight part of my recent actions is clear now in hindsight. I still want to do it, I still want to get a doctorate but I also need to put it in context and not rush blindly into things without considering the implications of said actions.

  • Would it be easier if I rush into a PhD and leave everything else behind? Sure it would be hell of a lot easier.
  • Would it be smart? Probably not as I'm really struggling with the math part of the GRE and haven't even thought about verbal or quantitative yet

The fight part only became clearer as I was getting my hotdog lunch today (20061004). Rather than rush into things, do them right, even if it's going to take longer. I want to teach and I want to do research but I also want to leave on my own good terms when it happens.

Good monsters
Jars of Clay

All the good monsters open their eyes
To see the wasteland where the home fires rise
And the people shouting, "Why, why, why"
Do you know what you are?
Do you know what you are?
All the giants wake from their sleep
And roll outside of safety's keep
And the pain makes them feel so alive
Do you know what you are; do you know what you are?
We are bored of all the things we know
Do you know what you are; do you know what you are?
Not all monsters are bad
But the ones who are good
Never do what they could, never do what they could
All the good monsters rattle their chains
And dance around the open flames
They make a lot of empty noise
While all of the bright eyes turn away
As if there wasn't anything to say
About the justice and the mystery
Do you know what you are?
Do you know what you are?
We are bored of all the things that we know
And we are forms of everything we love, we love..
If good won't show its ugly face,
Evil won't you take your place?
Nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes
By itself
We are bored of all the things that we know
Do you know what you are?
Because we are so in love with ourselves
We are forms of all the things we love.

Chico can be a tricky place. It can offer a safe place but it can also be a dangerous place. I've grown complacent and lazy