Geek Love

Sam Potts

Published: March 9, 2008

San Francisco

GARY GYGAX died last week and the universe did not collapse. This surprises me a little bit, because he built it.

I’m not talking about the cosmological, Big Bang part. Everyone who reads blogs knows that a flying spaghetti monster made all that. But Mr. Gygax co-created the game Dungeons & Dragons, and on that foundation of role-playing and polyhedral dice he constructed the social and intellectual structure of our world.

Dungeons & Dragons was a brilliant pastiche, mashing together tabletop war games, the Conan-the-Barbarian tales of Robert E. Howard and a magic trick from the fantasy writer Jack Vance with a dash of Bulfinch’s mythology, a bit of the Bible and a heaping helping of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Mr. Gygax’s genius was to give players a way to inhabit the characters inside their games, rather than to merely command faceless hordes, as you did in, say, the board game Risk. Roll the dice and you generated a character who was quantified by personal attributes like strength or intelligence.

You also got to pick your moral alignment, like whether you were “lawful good” or “chaotic evil.” And you could buy swords and fight dragons. It was cool.

Yes, I played a little. In junior high and even later. Lawful good paladin. Had a flaming sword. It did not make me popular with the ladies, or indeed with anyone. Neither did my affinity for geometry, nor my ability to recite all of “Star Wars” from memory.

Yet on the strength of those skills and others like them, I now find myself on top of the world. Not wealthy or in charge or even particularly popular, but in instead of out. The stuff I know, the geeky stuff, is the stuff you and everyone else has to know now, too.

We live in Gary Gygax’s world. The most popular books on earth are fantasy novels about wizards and magic swords. The most popular movies are about characters from superhero comic books. The most popular TV shows look like elaborate role-playing games: intricate, hidden-clue-laden science fiction stories connected to impossibly mathematical games that live both online and in the real world. And you, the viewer, can play only if you’ve sufficiently mastered your home-entertainment command center so that it can download a snippet of audio to your iPhone, process it backward with beluga whale harmonic sequences and then podcast the results to the members of your Yahoo group.

Even in the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons, when his company was selling millions of copies and parents feared that the game was somehow related to Satan worship, Mr. Gygax’s creation seemed like a niche product. Kids played it in basements instead of socializing. (To be fair, you needed at least three people to play — two adventurers and one Dungeon Master to guide the game — so Dungeons & Dragons was social. Demented and sad, but social.) Nevertheless, the game taught the right lessons to the right people.

Geeks like algorithms. We like sets of rules that guide future behavior. But people, normal people, consistently act outside rule sets. People are messy and unpredictable, until you have something like the Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. Once you’ve broken down the elements of an invented personality into numbers generated from dice, paper and pencil, you can do the same for your real self.

For us, the character sheet and the rules for adventuring in an imaginary world became a manual for how people are put together. Life could be lived as a kind of vast, always-on role-playing campaign.

Don’t give me that look. I know I’m not a paladin, and I know I don’t live in the Matrix. But the realization that everyone else was engaged in role-playing all the time gave my universe rules and order.

We geeks might not be able to intuit the subtext of a facial expression or a casual phrase, but give us a behavioral algorithm and human interactions become a data stream. We can process what’s going on in the heads of the people around us. Through careful observation of body language and awkward silences, we can even learn to detect when we are bringing the party down with our analysis of how loop quantum gravity helps explain the time travel in that new “Terminator” TV show. I mean, so I hear.

Mr. Gygax’s game allowed geeks to venture out of our dungeons, blinking against the light, just in time to create the present age of electronic miracles.

Dungeons & Dragons begat one of the first computer games, a swords-and-sorcery dungeon crawl called Adventure. In the late 1970s, the two games provided the narrative framework for the first fantasy-based computer worlds played by multiple, remotely connected users. They were called multi-user dungeons back then, and they were mostly the province of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But they required the same careful construction of virtual identities that Mr. Gygax had introduced to gaming.

Today millions of people are slaves to Gary Gygax. They play EverQuest and World of Warcraft, and someone must still be hanging out in Second Life. (That “massively multiplayer” computer traffic, by the way, also helped drive the development of the sort of huge server clouds that power Google.)

But that’s just gaming culture, more pervasive than it was in 1974 when Dungeons & Dragons was created and certainly more profitable — today it’s estimated to be a $40 billion-a-year business — but still a little bit nerdy. Delete the dragon-slaying, though, and you’re left with something much more mainstream: Facebook, a vast, interconnected universe populated by avatars.

Facebook and other social networks ask people to create a character — one based on the user, sure, but still a distinct entity. Your character then builds relationships by connecting to other characters. Like Dungeons & Dragons, this is not a competitive game. There’s no way to win. You just play.

This diverse evolution from Mr. Gygax’s 1970s dungeon goes much further. Every Gmail login, every instant-messaging screen name, every public photo collection on Flickr, every blog-commenting alias is a newly manifested identity, a character playing the real world.

We don’t have to say goodbye to Gary Gygax, the architect of the now. Every time I make a tactical move (like when I suggest to my wife this summer that we should see “Iron Man” instead of “The Dark Knight”), I’m counting my experience points, hoping I have enough dexterity and rolling the dice. And every time, Mr. Gygax is there — quasi-mystical, glowing in blue and bearing a simple game that was an elegant weapon from a more civilized age.

That was a reference to “Star Wars.” Cool, right?

Adam Rogers is a senior editor at Wired.

Plan the flight and fly the plan

Plan The Flight, Then Fly The Plan
By Dale Brown

25 July 2001

This was a response to a reader in the Navy who told me he was a little down because he just finished this long, intense training course, but was far away from home and his family and was afraid of getting discouraged and giving up:

The answer to your question is not an easy one, because there's all sorts of variables involved, but the basic idea is simple: you need to sit and think about what it is that you want to do, what it is that will make you happy.

You need a PLAN. You need a concrete, SPECIFIC thing you want to do or want to accomplish. Then, you need a SPECIFIC, ATTAINABLE, WRITTEN-OUT, and SCHEDULED plan of action to carry it out. Third, you need to BELIEVE you can carry out your plan.

[IMAGE]The first and most essential task is the most obvious but often the most This is more than infomercial psycho-babble--in fact, it's the ONLY thing that will keep you from feeling down, no matter what your circumstances are.

Unfortunately, the most important part is usually the hardest part--deciding what it is you want to do or what you want to accomplish. That's why it needs a lot of thought.

When I was in grade school, I discovered I wanted to write. I knew I enjoyed military stories, but I didn't believe I could do it. I started writing in middle and high school, but it was non-fiction stuff for the Grand Island high school paper or the local town paper. It was OK, but it wasn't the stuff I wanted to do.

In high school I wanted to fly, but again (I think because I wore glasses and folks who didn't know what they were talking about told me) I didn't become a pilot--I went into the Air Force as a navigator. I was flying, and I was pretty good at it, but I still wasn't happy.

Three years before I got out of the USAF, I started writing "Flight of the Old Dog." I was still writing non-fiction, for the base newspapers and for computer magazines, and I was even making money as a writer. But as I got into writing fiction, I realized this is what I really wanted to do. I wasn't making a dime as a fiction writer (in fact, I didn't make any money at it until long after I got out of the Air Force), but I was enjoying it.

Other things started to be affected as I pursued fiction writing, but it didn't matter because I was happy writing fiction. I admit that I was not the Air Force's most highly motivated officer back then. I did my job, but as the Air Force and my commanders often reminded me, they can train a chimp to drop bombs--what the Air Force was looking for were leaders, innovators, guys and girls excited about serving their country and anxious to carry on the traditions and expectations of the American military.

That wasn't me. I didn't care about working on my professional military education or other "square-fillers" expected of rising officers, because it had nothing to do with writing. I didn't care about getting "face time" hanging around the squadron or the O-Club or the golf course. I flew my sorties, pulled alert, and did my additional duties, and when I was done, I went home and wrote. I soon realized that I probably wasn't going to get promoted, so I got out.

I feel I did the right thing by resigning my commission. I had no right to stay in if I wasn't going to live up to the Air Force's expectations. It was my responsibility to follow their doctrine, not to expect them to conform to mine. But I did the right thing for myself also, because now I had a chance to do what I wanted to do.

Things were not wine and song after I got out. My ex had a job, but I was virtually unemployable at my Air Force salary level. I was 8 years behind my contemporaries in education and job experience. I wasn't even good at being a house-husband, because all I wanted to do was write. My new plan was to go to flight school to get my commercial license and instructor ratings. But soon after I got out I signed my first book contract, and I've been writing full-time since.

Yes, there was a little bit of luck involved getting that contract, but as Arnold Palmer once said, "The more I work, the luckier I get." The ONE THING I had going for me when I left the Air Force, the ONLY ADVANTAGE I had that no one else had, was a finished manuscript called "The Flight of Old Dog Zero One" (later renamed by Don Fine as "Flight of the Old Dog"). I was lucky enough to realize that the one thing that truly made me happy was writing, and I pursued it, even though it meant leaving other stuff behind--like a good Air Force career. As it turned out, pursuing that one thing that really made me happy was a turning point.

I didn't know it at the time that it would be so important, but that doesn�t matter. The thing that mattered is I was doing something that MADE ME HAPPY.

So that's the objective: figure out whatever it is that MAKES YOU HAPPY, and then figure out a plan for getting it. Everyone talks about the "Mission Statement." You need your own "Mission Statement"--a succinct, understandable, specific goal.

Notice I didn't say "Whatever makes you happy that you can earn a living at." Notice I didn't say anything about money. Rarely does anyone have a goal of earning money and that's it. In fact, many times a thing is not even a goal. Things are usually sub-goals.

Once you figure out what it is you really want that will make you happy, then you have to figure out how to get it. In my case, it was relatively easy: I wanted to write fiction, so I wrote. Notice I didn't say "I wanted to be a best-selling novelist" or "I want to be a millionaire by writing fiction." All I wanted to do was write fiction. Once I started doing that, I was happy. The rest happened because publishers and readers were willing to pay for the stuff I wrote, and because I had a family to support. The goals changed a little bit, but the basic objective stayed the same: write fiction.

This begs the question: How happy could I have been if by doing this, I threw away a perfectly good Air Force career and was earning minimum wage as a security guard while doing it? How could I have been happy if I wasn't earning any money doing it? And isn't it easy to tell other folks to "do what makes you happy" now that I can earn a living writing, something which only a fraction of novelists do?

The answer is a little weird, but it's still true nonetheless: true happiness rarely has anything to do with money. Yes, some folks have earning money their goal in life. They might even have a specific number in mind--a million dollars, or ten million dollars, or they want to be independently wealthy. The problem happens when you achieve the goal. What do you do once you earn a million dollars? You had better have another goal in mind, because a guy with a million dollars and nothing else is pretty much a zero. You think you could stand to be a zero with that kind of money--but you meet a lot of zeroes, and everyone recognizes them as such. Still, if it makes you happy just to have a bank account with a million dollars in it, go for it.

The bottom line is this: if you figure out what it is that makes you happy, and you pursue it, and you achieve it--EVERYTHING ELSE DOESN'T MATTER. You have done what you were put here on Earth to do--make yourself happy.

Sound incredibly self-centered? Sound incredibly selfish? Think you were put here in this life to do things for others, to raise a happy family, to be a good upstanding responsible son, or to make society a better place than it was before you arrived? Then you will always be unhappy. IF YOU ARE NOT DOING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR LIFE. We can all stand to be more self-ce
ntered, because then we'd all be happier and the world would be a happier place.

You went to this school because--why? Because you wanted to? Did someone talk you into it? Or was it a stepping-stone to where you really want to be? If it's just a thing you need to do to attain your ultimate goal--and education is often an important part--then simply keep your objective in mind, remind yourself that the loneliness and isolation you feel is part of what you need to feel to achieve your goal, and press on. The feeling of dread will pass. Visualize yourself attaining your goal. Remind yourself that it's necessary to do this thing or go to this school to attain your goal, and focus on the GOAL, not the stepping-stone.

But if you are feeling left out and down because you're not working towards any specific goal, but you grabbed an opportunity or got talked into it or did it because you thought someone expected it of you, it's time to re-evaluate your goals and re-do the plan. Re-discover what it is that will MAKE YOU HAPPY, make a new plan, and get busy carrying out the plan. Nothing else matters.

I don't know what your school is, but let's say your goal is to become a Navy SEAL. Nothing else matters. You sleep, eat, and think SEALs all the time. You see yourself in a RHIB doing an assault. You see yourself setting charges, killing the bad guys, rescuing fellow sailors.

But you apply for SEAL training, and you're denied. You apply again, and are still denied. If you really want it, you'll find out why, and you'll fix it. Yes you're discouraged, but you'll keep on trying because you really want it. You will learn what it takes to become a SEAL. You'll train harder, get in better shape, toughen your mind and your body, study harder. You will keep on working towards your goal because that's what you really want. You'll talk to other SEALs, talk to SEAL instructors, go in to see the commander and talk about SEALs, go to open houses, show your face. If you want it bad enough, you'll do all these things, and more.

I know this was a long-winded answer to your question, but it's what I believe, and it's helped me through tough and confusing times. People get depressed and discouraged either because they have no goal or because what they are doing is not helping them achieve their goal. But if you focus on the goal and the attainment of that goal is what you really want, then even major setbacks won't matter.

Write anytime! GBA, Dale...

Things I miss

There are things that become so integral to who you are that when you miss them it's hard to articulate.  I just had one of such moments yesterday.

Hazard Sensei called me yesterday (3/5) to let me know that Tanaka Sensei was retiring from Federation work.  It made me think about those things that I miss and those things I've said I didn't want any more.

I miss Naginata terribly.

What I've learned

Or The Pearls of Wisdom I've collected in 10 years

Lost Highway
Bon Jovi  (Lost Highway)

In my rearview mirror
My life is getting clearer
The sunset sighs and slowly disappears
These trinkets once were treasure
Life changes like the weather
You grow up, grow old or you hit the road 'round here
So I drive, watching white lines passing by
With my plastic dashboard Jesus, waiting there to greet us

Hey, hey, I finally found my way
Say goodbye to yesterday
Hit the gas there ain't no brakes on the lost highway
Yeah I'm busting loose, I'm letting go
Out on this open road
It's independence day on this lost highway

I don't know where I'm going
But I know where I've been
Now I'm afraid of going back again
So I drive, years and miles are flying by
And waiting there to great us
Is my plastic dashboard Jesus

Oh patron saint of lonely souls
To tell this boy which way to go
Guide the car, you got the keys
Farewell to mediocrity
Kicking off the cruise-control
And turning up the radio
Got just enough religion
And a half tank of gas come on, let's go

I finally found my way
Say goodbye to yesterday
Hit the gas there ain't no brakes on the lost highway
Yeah I'm busting loose, I'm letting go
Out on this open road

It's independence day on this lost highway

There are a lot of things that I've realized or that I've actually thought outloud and articulated into a coherent statement of what I have learned, what I want and, I think most important, what i don't want from the people I work with and the people I work for.

This is an ongoing post. As I learn more or decide to write more of what I learn down, this post is going to continue to grow. It may be moved to the top

What I want

  • If people say no then try to understand why they are saying no and don't just slam them because they are not doing what you want them to.

  • I want a team where there's open communication, not this sniping and trying to take control situation. Sometimes work calls on you to be an isolated individual and that's fine, but don't let that become the only way you do work

  • I want to foster a team-culture of openness, backing each other up and accountability

  • Openness: It's ok for you to tell a coworker when they made a mistake and hope it'll taken in the constructive spirit it was offered. Egos have a limited role in a team.

  • Corollary 1 to openness: Be sure you offer criticism in a constructive way.

  • Corollary 2 to openness: Accept criticism without being defensive, the SOB is not trying to get you, he's trying to help

  • Corollary 3 to openness: Be available to talk to those around you. If you are seen as approachable it'll be easier to keep lines of communication open

  • Back each other up: If you are a team it should be perfectly ok to look over each other's shoulders and double check each other's work. We are all part of this process and it affects all of us when something doesn't work out the way it should

  • Corollary 1 to back each other up: You have to know enough to back your team mates up

  • Corollary 2 to back each other up: Delegation should not mean that you're not ready and willing to do your part in the team effort 

  • Accountability: If you screw up assume the reasonability for doing so.  A team should be supportive of honest mistakes but not tolerant of lazy mistakes

  • Corollary 1 to accountability: It's ok to screw up, as long as you learn from your mistakes

  • Corollary 2 to accountability: It's starts with you. If people see that you work hard to be and remain accountable they will want to follow you and do the same.

  • Keep communicating with those around you and actually act upon those things that are important to those around you. (Most) People don't bitch just for the hell of it but feel that they have a valid reason to complain so it's your job to, at the very least, investigate their issues are and attempt a resolution

  • Be quick to praise and slow to criticize (see Corollary 1 and 2 to to openness above)

  • Don't expect of others which you're not ready to do yourself

  • Listening is an art. Become a listening artist

  • Compromise is not always bad, just don't make a habit out of it.

    What I don't want

  • If you're working on a team then do so and don't try to take over by stating what you want done and then expecting it to be done

  • I don't want conflict to spiral out like it has this time around.  If I have to become involved in conflict then I have already failed in resolving the issue.

  • Sure as hell I don't want to be the one carrying a team, either technically or in terms of communication. I think that's what I'm most upset about the review for this last period.... I can't care what other people's reviews are, my review was unfair from my perspective as it laid a lot of the weight on me in terms of my ability to communicate.

  • I don't want a position where there is no growth.  I don't want to feel stagnant and have to initiate my own projects to keep myself current in the technology

  • Enjoy life for it is all that it was intended for

    After all of the battles are over,
    After all of the fighting is done,
    Will you be the one
    To find yourself alone with your heart?
    Looking for the answer.

    Lonely Soldier Boy -- Michael Bradley

    I did something unusual yesterday. Since I had to go to the mall to return a phone (long story there) I decided to go to Outback and have dinner... they are expensive but damn their steaks are good. It was a leisure dinner, very much unlike what my eating habits usually are (you know, 15 minutes dinner and a sandwich for dinner when I remember)  and it was tons of fun 🙂

    Happiness is such a fleeting thing. The trick is to be the happiest you can right now because it may be gone just as quickly as you gained it to begin with... That's the key, finding someone whom you can treasure your happiness with, someone who is as ready to give of themselves as they are to take from you. 

    I think one other thing that I need to concentrate energies where they are going to do the most for me; not for the team or the university, but just me. I don't have to worry about work as long as I do what's expected of me and those expectations are made clear from the get-go.  Beyond that I am looking for a good position to be in. There is no room for growth and learning and I don't want to have to deal with assholes on a regular basis.... Yes, I know that's unavoidable but you can manage the situations to where you don't have to take the heat or the bullshit. 

    One of the things that really annoy me is when people start throwing their weight around without regard to the people they are working with or what their feelings are.

    Gotta keep reminding myself that people are not against you but just our to cover their own asses.  That and knot knowing what the "big picture" makes it suck even worse.

    I have to keep moving on. If I stop now the whole shitload of trouble is going to hit me full force and without warning.  I've learned a lot about what I want and about what I don't want as a friend, worker, follower and leader... I'll take the experiences with me no matter where I go 😀

    TFB that it won't be here in Chico.

    AS much as I've seesawed over the choice I think it's time to really accept the fact that you've run your course at Chico. No matter what happens the job, the University and the city are no longer what you're looking for.  I mentioned elsewhere in one of my past reviews that there is no possibility for professional growth.  I should have listened to my instincts and my hear when they both told me on their own way that it was time to move on

    Shadow of the day
    Linkin Park

    I close both locks below the window.
    I close both blinds and turn away.
    Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple.
    Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh.

    And the sun will set for you
    The sun will set for you.
    And the shadow of the day,
    Will embrace the world in gray,
    And the sun will set for you...

    In cards and flowers on your window,
    Your friends all plead for you to stay.
    Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple.
    Sometimes goodbye’s the only way, oh.

    And the sun will set for you,
    The sun will set for you.
    And the shadow of the day,
    Will embrace the world in gray,
    And the sun will set for you.

    And the shadow of the day,
    Will embrace the world in gray,
    And the sun will set for you.

    And the shadow of the day,
    Will embrace the world in gray,

    And the sun will set for you.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    That's what I need to start working towards now. A life where the challenges are formed around what I want, not what other people think I want and,most fucking definitely, not what they want to get through me. I'm totally ok with the way that things worked out yesterday with this one particular asshole. I'm just regretting that I have to meet with him and other people this afternoon on a completely unrelated matter.

    Again I am reminded of what I don't want to be as a leader or manager:

    • If people say no then try to understand why they are saying no and don't just slam them because they are not doing what you want them to.

    (This is probably go into another post, there are a lot of things to be gleaned of my last 3 years in Chico and I don't want to clutter this post with that and make it neverending)

    So I think it's safe to say that after all I wrote the conclusion for this posting is: Enjoy life and be ready to move on. You ran your course here in Chico and you owe it to yourself to find something that will make YOU happy

    At a crossroads

    If I'm spending this much time struggling with a problem then perhaps it's a sign that I'm looking at it from the wrong perspective, right?

    Over the past couple weeks I've been seriously considering the options I'd have regarding going back to Chile for an extended period of time both to job hunt and/or just to chill and explore who is Carlos, where is he in life and what he wants to do about life and about the future.

    I got another email from a classmate in Facebook (from here on FB) and it was amazing. Felipe (http://www.felipecooper.com) was one of this kids who was good at everything, science, humanities, sports, arts... he was awesome at it.  He chose sciences as a career but shortly after writing his thesis he decided to switch and pursued a second degree in fine arts. 

    I've always known I had that option, that if I want a career change all I have to do is put mind to task and pedal to the metal and get off my fat ass and do it. It wasn't just that.... It was also finding out about a dear friend and that career changes like that are possible in Chile.  That was one of the reasons why I decided to stay in the US; at the time it seemed the sensible choice to make... I was a theater major and in the mid '90s I didn't see much of a future as a technical theater person in Chile.  Then I switched majors to instructional design/technology and the field was pretty much dead in Chile at the time as well. 

    The choices were correct at the time they were made but that doesn't mean that they'll always remain so. Life is a fluid series of events that forces (at least it should force) constant evaluation and re-evaluation of your choices and your path in life.

    I know I have to go back and finish a variety of tasks I left incomplete. I have to pay a visit to my dad's grave and spend some time with family there. They are getting older and I may not have much more time to do so before they start kicking the bucket (BTW, do you have your bucket list? :D), friends who I want to spend time with, and things to do that I never got around or knew that I wanted to do... things like white water rafting or learning to dive here so I can do it there with friends.

    I think that it all boils down to one of my favorite rush quotes/lyrics

    When we are young
    Wandering the face of the Earth
    Wondering what our dreams might be worth
    Learning that we're only immortal
    For a limited time

    Dreamline --Rush

    I suddenly realize that I don't have all the time in the world I thought I had. Time waits for no one and I've discovered, once again, that I am not immortal and that neither are those I care about. That it's too easy to miss the little moments of life because you're too caught in the "big picture" to pay attention.

    If you're going to live life you're going to do so 100% without compromises, keeping your eyes and ears open for the world around you and letting yourself be surprised by what the world has to offer;

    Dance likes no one's watching

    We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.
    Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are.

    After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

    We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

    The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.

    If not now ... when?

    Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D Souza ...

    "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin.
    But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

    This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

    So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time ... and remember that time waits for no one ...

    So stop waiting until you finish school ... until you go back to school ... until you lose ten pounds ... until you gain ten pounds ... until you have kids ... until your kids leave the house ... until you start work ... until you retire ... until you get married ... until you get divorced ... until Friday night ... until Sunday morning ... until you get a new car or home ... until your car or home is paid off ... until spring, until summer ... until fall ... until winter ... until you are off welfare ... until the first or fifteenth ... until your song comes on ... until you've had a drink ... until you've sobered up ... until you die ... until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy ...

    Happiness is a journey ... not a destination!!

    I'm feeling like the little kid who always wishes he could do those things which he knows he can't. I was hit by the video to the right (Same Mistake by James Blunt) twice this morning (2/28), while watching VH1's morning video show and in my top 40 music stream that I leave on while I shower (I know, I know, TMI but what of it, it's my blog after all :P)

    The more I think about it the more I feel like something's missing and I think that's what should be the driving force for me. To look for what's missing in life right now.

    I started thinking about the trip to Chile in December and January. It is intended as a healing trip and a trip that will allow me to reconnect with those people and places I grew up with and also to reconnect with the real me.

    I know it's petty to say but it's true. I think that somewhere down the line I lost track of myself and started being more who I perceived others (family and strangers alike) wanted me to be, not who I really am and not who I really want to be :-). 

    Yes, you're right. Perhaps I am being unfair in my evaluation of my evaluation... an overall evaluation of above average is nothing to sneeze at but it's a perception thing more than anything, I am perceived one w
    ay and I came to the conclusion that it's other people who drive me to behaviors that are found objectionable.

    I think that's the real reason why I want to go back to Chile so bad. Not only because I want to see my friends, although it's important to catch up with people whom I haven't seen in almost 16 years. Not only because I have family obligations to take care of, hell I've put them off for 5+ years so there's no reason for me to want to do it now. It's not even because I'd have an extra month of hot as hell summer

    I think it has all to do with my need to really look deep and see who do I want to be, where I want to go from now on  and who, if anyone, I want to go with. I say this every so often but the combination of my needing to find myself, the shit I've been going through at work, the realization that I'm not getting any younger, and the feeling that there's something missing is driving this to a completely different level than it's been in the past.

    Perhaps it's also the fact that I am far less willing to compromise and let other people run complete roughshod over me than I've been in the past. If it means I have to get territorial then so be it. If it means that I have to become more confrontational then I welcome the challenge to keep an even keel while at the same time addressing issues that are important to me.

    It's kinda ironic, I know, to be looking for a way to avoid conflict that includes conflict but it's one of those dualities that I'm having to deal with.

    Here's another duality: True Strength Lies in Kindness.  Where you really demonstrate your strength is not by being the one beating up all comers but by knowing when and how to deal with a situation so that it doesn't become one where violence or a show of strength is necessary. The key knowledge in all battles is knowing when to fight and when not to 🙂

    I tell myself,
    "Hey! Only fools rush in"
    Only time will tell
    If we stand the test of time
    All I know
    You've got to run to win and
    I'll damned if i'll get caught up on the line. Hey!

    Why can't this be love -- Van Halen

    I'll stop here for now. There are a lot of things to ponder, think, consider, evaluate and implement (Instructional design keeps interrupting my normal programming... grrrr.) before I can take a look at this again and figure out if I got answers or only more questions

    Long(er) Term Plans

    Some of the things that I want to do and questions that I want to answer before the end of the year (Q2 and Q3, 2008)

    Activity Description Notes
    GRE  --> Dates?! Pick a date and take it, don't worry about the score for now
      Cost  
      Question about submission to multiple institutions  
         
    UNR --> PhD without an MA Can I do the PhD and complete an MA at the same time?
      Visit?  
      MA with Emphasis in Basque Studies  
         
    UGA --> Work on packet Deadline is in December
      App Fee  
      Visit?  
         
    Trip to Chile --> Dates Ideally December '08 / January '09 for 1 month
      Activities
    • Trip to Antofagasta to spend time with family and visit Dad's grave
    • Diving lessons before I go so I can go diving when there
    • Train Trip to Chiloe and lots of hiking once there or just quiet time for reflection
    • Blogging, lots of blogging
    • Buy a Cannon SLR camera so I can take tons and tons of pictures and load them directly to blog and/or gallery
    • Contact friends so I can spend time with them
    • Answer the question: Do I want to stay?
      Planning
    • Cost Tickets from SFO and from LAX (LAX seems to be cheaper by about $200) either getting my ass down there or flying out of whatever city I find myself in
    • Find a place to stay (rent from aunt or friend?)
    • Contact the people I want to see