Are You On The Level?

It's a little weird to have a grandniece: my niece has a daughter. Now, I have a grandnephew: my niece has given birth to a baby boy. Does this make me feel old? Hahahaa. A little. Only when I think about the norm that the uncle has kids before his niece does, except my niece and I are close in age.

She told me that one of her friends brags about how well she raises her daughter and doesn't use things like TV and iDevices. That had made my niece feel bad about the way she raises her kids. I advised that any bad feelings my niece had is really her holding onto those thoughts that causes those bad feelings. Let those thoughts go by not putting any value on them, like watching bubbles float away down a river. Don't be a puppet to your own thoughts.

Ultimately, though, her friend is insecure. If she was confident, then she wouldn't need to brag then devalue my niece in any way. We see this a lot when we think someone is out of someone else's league in regards to dating.

On Saturday, I went to dinner with a few friends and an acquaintance had joined who I've called Mr. SUV. You see, Mr. SUV had this girlfriend who didn't want to spend anytime with him, then stated he'd drive a hybrid except it didn't attract the ladies, which he wouldn't need to do if he already had this so called girlfriend. Right? Yeah...I don't know.

Anyway, I surmise that he doesn't like me. Why? He was praising his smart watch, which prompted me to ask him what he thought about Apple's smart watch. He threw air quotes and said, "Oh, the Apple Watch?"

My Preciousss...

I asked him what the air quotes meant. Apparently, the rumor mill had been calling the Watch the iWatch for a very long time, and even Tim Cook was caught on camera using that name. But Mr. SUV complained that they're now calling it the Watch. I guess companies can't change their minds or have code names for their products, despite the fact that Apple had never confirmed they were making an Watch before announcing it. I stated that Apple is doing this to avoid litigation issues with the naming convention of i(Device)s. Mr. SUV rolled his eyes. 

All righty then...

That same night, a friend of mine asked me about the new iPhone 6's. I told her that I loved the feel of the rounded glass screen. Mr. SUV then touched his phone's screen and mocked, "Ooh. The screen feels so good. Oooh." He was on the verge of having a Meg Ryan moment from When Harry Met Sally.

I felt miffed, but reconfirmed that I did love the feel of that screen. I don't know what it is. But maybe Jony Ive should design sex toys. I left Mr. SUV alone because he was trying to impress my friend, which she wasn't, and he didn't need any help from me failing at that, even though I wanted to do this:

I bring up Mr. SUV because he's the kind of guy who always praises himself and devalues others because he's insecure. And because I'm a writer, I'm always trying to tune myself more and more to what people are saying underneath their words.

Someone who is confident doesn't even need to elevate themselves because they know that other peoples' opinions have no effect on who they are. And vice versa. Confident people know they have no control over other peoples' opinions, so why put the effort in trying to change it?

And only insecure people would write about someone they don't like and call him Mr. SUV on their website. Wait. What? I mean, confident people wouldn't even post a Mr. SUV article on their website. Whoa. Hold on. Insecure people and confident people are people too. Sigh. I give up.

Open vs. Closed

No. This post is not about Apple's closed vs. Android's open system. Anyone still talking about that doesn't understand their business models.

Do I Look Bored?
Do I Look Bored?

One of the theories of good storytelling suggests tying different characters' arcs into a common theme. In Don Jon, the main character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is addicted to porn because he savors that perfect girl doing perfect things like giving the perfect blowjob. His new girlfriend, played by Scarlett Johansson, is addicted to romance movies where the perfect guy meets the perfect girl and they're perfect for each other. Both adult and romantic films are forms of porn because they depict a sort of perfection, or perversion, that doesn't wholly exist in the real world.

This past weekend's social events seemed to depict one common theme. Saturday, I had dinner with a group of people and was talking to an acquaintance. Mr. SUV jabbered about his girlfriend, so I asked him why she wasn't here. She's complex, Mr. SUV responded. My interest piqued because I love observing and talking about relationships, what makes them work, what doesn't. I asked what made her so complex?

"Well...I call her my girlfriend, but...she doesn't really want to see me. We don't see each other much."

I pursed my lips. "So, you're taking a break?"

"No...we still talk...she doesn't want to spend time with me. It's frustrating."

Uh...what? Trying to get more information resulted with more confusion on my part, but the thought that came to mind was:

Moments later, he was talking up his SUV, how good it was, the value, its horsepower. He would drive a hybrid but it wouldn't impress the ladies. What? Quality women don't care about the car you drive, they care about being with a confident man, I barged in. The ladies at the table nodded.

"You haven't seen the kind of women I meet," Mr. SUV said.

"What women? You have a girlfriend."

He chuckled. I was a little frustrated with him, I don't know why.

The next day, I went with a hiking group to Yosemite on a day trip. It was incredibly beautiful, air smelled clean. I'd made my way around and talked to everyone, sharing my humorous side throughout the day. Afterward, about ten of us went to dinner and the strangeness from the night before continued, despite being a completely different group of people.

A Harvard grad kept pestering me about the racial mixture of Venezuelans. I told him several times I didn't know because I left my country at a very young age. Mr. Harvard wasn't listening because he was crushing on Prada Girl, whom he carpooled with.

Prada Girl was flicking through Facebook, paying little attention to the conversation until the topic strolled to shopping. She liked having brand name purses such as Prada and showed off hers. Before going back to her phone, she mentioned that her older brother had paid for a lot of that stuff. I asked why.

Then Middle Woman said that's what brothers are for. I asked her if she was the youngest. No, she had two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. Curiosity tickled my mind, and I asked if Middle Woman felt left out because she was the center child. She shook her head.

The conversation moved to our jobs, and Miss Moneypants was asked if she liked what she did. Miss Moneypants worked for a company that built components for satellites. "I'd be happier if I made more money."

"Would you be happy if you were paid 500,000 dollars as a prostitute?" I quipped.

"Why would you ask that?" Miss Moneypants said, shaking her head.

"You seem to put a lot of happiness on money," I said. 

Another woman was brave enough to turn that question on me, which I appreciated. Before I could answer, Miss Moneypants stated angrily, "I know YOU would."

ooh...I need to get a hair cut
ooh...I need to get a hair cut

Several people said I was asking personal questions. I guess that depends on who you are. It's not like I had a gun and threatened them to answer. They could just have ignore me.

"Answer me, or I'll—uh—ask you another question!"

There's a bigger issue here, and I'm not sure if it's because these people were Asians. Everyone seemed very closed, unable to have an open conversation. In a way, I think, they don't want to confront themselves and see that they might be living a lie.

In the instance of Mr. SUV, he places his own value on what people think of him, so he has this girlfriend who doesn't want to spend time with him. Miss Moneypants places her happiness on money, the one thing that can be easily taken away. Prada Girl hides behind her brand name clothes and accessories, while Mr. Harvard can't seem to get it up and flirt with Prada Girl, so he pretends to be intellectual about something he has no involvement in.

Much like the characters in Don Jon, both are trying to recreate the life they see on the screen, not knowing that life isn't perfect. Part of their growth is that happiness shouldn't be linked to anything that life has to offer but is innate within them, and, as such, they should let go of all pretense.

Leggo My Ego

I’ve been waiting for this night for seven years! I write about ego in NIGHTFALL, talk about it, how it can affect choices. I don’t actually lecture about it, making the narrative a freaking lecture, which was how I felt Dan Brown was doing in THE SYMBOL. I just weaved the affects of ego through the narrative, hoping that I’ve communicated my views through subtext.

Broke Back

Broke Back

Tonight was a historic night.

One of the most talked about UFC fights was UFC 162, Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman (pictured left). Silva (pictured right) has been the reigning middle weight (185 lb) champion for the past seven years. In mixed martial arts (MMA), that is unheard of because no one has accomplished that, save Silva.

I’ve always felt that Silva had an ego, though you'd never know with the words he uses. Like a shark that can sense blood from a thousand miles away, I can sense a person's ego. We see evidence of Silva's arrogance in his previous fights when he taunts his opponents, giving little respect, despite the fact that he says he respects every single opponent.

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Actions speaks louder than words. Women know this. I know this. Does this make me a woman?

Silva’s fights always starts with some form of reading his opponent, where they’ll attempt some form of attack, but Silva always evades, doing calculations like a supercomputer, reading their reach, timing, rhythm, skill, mind set, etc. And once he’s done with his calculations, he pounces and often finishes his opponents in the second round.

When the main event of UFC 162 started, I saw Silva come out, completely relaxed. Weidman charges to the middle of the octagon, also relaxed. In spite of Weidman, who is a very accomplished wrestler, taking Silva to the mat, the champion easily evaded all submissions attempts and got back to his feet. A few moments later, Silva’s supercomputer was on its way to finishing the calculations. I know this because when the champion starts taunting the challenger, he'd figured out Weidman. My body reacted from watching all of Silva's other fights, expecting a huge knock out finish of the challenger. From my point of view, Weidman seemed lost, but he also looked relaxed, a good thing. End first round.

Here’s the important part. When the second round began, Silva came out and taunted Weidman again. When Weidman tried to strike, Silva would dodge and move as if the challenger had nothing on him. The champion even pretended he was hurt when a punch grazed by his cheeks, an expert at going with the flow of punches, making him very difficult to knock out. More taunting, show boating ensued, something the fans of the UFC, and me, were used to.

Then it came. Weidman threw a combination, which was a little messy but worked because a half-hearted back fist had forced Silva’s head to flow left, and he blinked. Weidman quickly followed it with a punch to the chin, knocking down (out even as Silva’s eyes rolled up) the former champion. Weidman then followed Silva with punches to the ground to make sure he was done.

Knocked Tha Ef Out

Knocked Tha Ef Out

So this is a long diatribe about how ego can be anyone’s downfall. I’m not saying I don’t have one, but I’m aware of it enough to not let it step in front of me and control my actions. Most of the time.

Ego has brought down civilizations, religions war over which god is better killing millions upon millions, corporations have withered away when the focus is on material wealth rather than serving the people. Sometimes it takes time. I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took a damn long time before it fell. Israel is still a subject of huge contention. Blackberry and Microsoft were caught with their pants down when Apple released the iPhone.

I’ve written how I’ve left my martial arts school because I didn’t believe in them anymore, their form of teaching, and the egos displayed in every inch of that school. They commented on my website, trying to dissuade me from my opinion, and as I’ve written here, I don’t read reviews unless I’ve solicited for it. My former school, on the other hand, have changed part of their system to accommodate for my criticism, and failed because they simply didn’t understand my article and the simple truth about how humans learn physical movement. The crazy part is that article listed simple things they could do to improve their student’s abilities. Dorks.

Yes, I do have a spy there. And they will never figure out whom. If they did, oops. Sorry, dude. Or dudet.

My Boat Is Bigger Than Yours

Entering my fourth week living in Hawaii, I find myself a bit lonely and go off looking for parties and get-togethers. So I go to this guy's 65-foot boat, which he told a woman is big (compensating?), and enjoy Waikiki's Friday night fireworks, a regular thing. Everyone brings food and drink, the owner of the boat fires up the BBQ, and friends and strangers talk.

One woman from Taiwan, I think, sulks about her Apple stock. Back in September it was trading above $700 per share, and was da most valuable company on da planet. Sorry. My Hawaiian came out a little. Now it pingpongs in the mid 400's. As much as I love Apple, I don't own stock cuz no one really knows how stocks will behave, AAPL being the most recent and best example. (Just a note: I've done a little research and there's no real reason for the stock's downfall, save for emotional sell off due to false rumors.)

I'm watching

I'm watching

This same woman announced for Steve Jobs' revival, which would scare the shit out of me if it happened, and shakes her tiny fist at the overcast sky. Being an Apple fan, I'm prone to reading everything about the fruit company, even though I may not invest in it, except to give my money to buy those precious--my precious--products. So I said that it wasn't due to Jobs' death that the stock fell, or else the stock would have fallen when his death was announced in October of 2011, and that back in September of last year, the stock had grown to its highest ever.

Then the popular guy in our group stated it was! He went on to say that Apple's map debacle would never have happened had Jobs been alive. People have very short memories because Steve had released products that tanked like MobileMe. Jobs also said, when meeting President Obama for the first time, that he'd be a one-term president. Even the chosen one isn't right all the time.

Duh...where do I go...

Duh...where do I go...

In vain, I try to give my opinion, but the popular guy shook his head and spoke over me, shelling his diatribe, the same crap that helped pummel the stock in the first place, none of it having any basis. My ego stepped in front of me and puffed his broad, massive, humongous, armor plated chest. I, on the other hand, kept quiet.

As an artist, not only do I have to read people, but myself--my ego almost getting me in trouble for arguing with people who regurgitate emotional baseless articles about Apple. Those two would never have listened to me, despite the fact that I was wearing an Apple cap. Not that people wearing Apple caps would know everything about Apple, but maybe I would have a different opinion, given that this is a get-together and we're here to converse.

Nope.

You may ask why I stopped myself? Well, sometimes I feel that I don't connect with people, and I've asked myself why? Normally, the reason is that I judge them. When you judge someone, like that person is below you, you can't connect with them. That's how a lot of slave owners got away with mistreating slaves, slaves aren't human. They disconnected themselves from the real truth.

There were two other guys that were friends with the popular dude, and immediately I read them as being a little closed minded. That's me pre-judging them, so I throw that notion away in an attempt to connect. One of them brought pork bellies to the BBQ, and I said yuck. It's pure fat. The one who brought it looked toward the horizon and said you only live once, and the other stated once in a while is ok, it's the accumulation that you have to worry about. I agree with that. My vice is ice cream, and I consume that once a week. But pork belly? I think that's a bit worse than ice cream. But they slurped it up like it was their last meal before the needle.

Then the conversation got to iPhones. Somehow we got to talking about pricing, and I said that you can get an iPhone for free on a two-year contract, if you're ok to settle for older tech. The guys lectured me saying their has never been an iPhone for free.

NEVER

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Now, at this point I could have pulled my iPhone and proved them wrong. But what's the point. My initial read of them was correct. They're in their own little club, and anyone who brings their own opinion will be met with opposition. Does that mean that I don't like anyone with their own opinion? No, that's stupid. But a debate can only be held if opinions are given, not stopped. Does that mean I should always rely on my first impression of others. Yep. But I give them a chance to disprove it. And in this case, they only proved it.

Onward to another party.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Actions Speak Louder Than Words I love it when I spend days upon days on a couple of chapters only to finally admit to myself that I need to rewrite the whole thing. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I realize I have to rewrite it. It’s bad because I kept on ignoring that realization. Cest la vie.

When I think about a scene and the characters involved, I think a lot about their actions. Their actions, more than what they say, tell a deeper story. If someone slams their hand on the table and says, “I’m calm,” we know that’s not true. If a character does something meaningless with no foreseeable goal, then it’s possible they’re there to just eaves drop without appearing to be, for example.

I learned from my days in acting that drawing from life and putting them in art is a great resource of inspiration.

My nephew had interviewed for a job where I work, the glorious corporate world. He’d been working through college at Home Depot. After being called back for a second interview, I had inquired what the managers had thought about my nephew. Unfortunately for him, I have no pull. Their main concern was he seemed desperate to leave Home Depot.

From what my nephew had told me, it didn’t sound like it. Now, if someone worked through college at a retail store, graduate, and then looks for a job, they’re looking to move on. Right? I mean, is it a sin to go out and use your college degree to get a better job?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

I had just watched an episode of Bones, and the psychologist talked about self-projection. An example of this is when we hate something about another person; it’s really something we hate about ourselves. I tend to find this true more often than not, especially within me.

It’s amazing how much some of the people at work complain. How some of them feel imprisoned. How they yearn for the weekend, look forward to vacations, but can’t leave their jobs because they have to pay for their Bimmers or Luis Vuittons. Are they projecting themselves onto my nephew, desperate to leave?

How true it is

How true it is

I've been keeping an eye on how AT&T reacted once Verizon had gotten the right to sell the famed iPhone 4.  A little history. Verizon had been on a successful ad campaign against AT&T. So when AT&T started selling the iPhone 4, they got rid of their unlimited data plan, something that pissed off a lot of customers. Instead of improving their network to handle all of their customers thanks to Apple's iPhone exclusivity, they limited new customers' usage:  We have the fastest network.  Just don't use it that much. Here's what AT&T did once Verizon iPhone 4 went on sale:

First AT&T said they weren't worried.

Then they touted their one advantage over Verizon.

Next, CEO of AT&T hates on Apple's app store.

Oh, hey. Since we at AT&T love our customers so much we decided to give you 1,000 minutes for free...if you have an iPhone.

Last but not least, AT&T quietly matched Verizon’s unlimited data plan, since Verizon offered it to new iPhone 4 customers.

What does all this say about AT&T? They're worried.

Actions do speak much louder than words.

Do As I Say, Not As You Do

In my book there is a tattoo culture.  Each family has their own symbol or emblem, which is customarily tattooed within the frame of an armband.  Recreational tats are also used.  If the person is a warrior and is moving up the ranks, then tattoos will represent that. I love tats.

There's a tattoo?

There's a tattoo?

For me, tattoos should have meaning.  They can represent a period in my life, something I may want to let go, something that I want to remember forever, or something that represents one of my philosophies in life.  So I take a long time to decide what I want to get.  But that's part of the fun.  The other part is the pain involved.  But that's another post.

What'd you say, bub?

What'd you say, bub?

One of my favorite shows is The Actor's Studio, hosted by James Lipton.  He's interviewed famous actors, directors, and some writers, exploring how they got to where they are today.  One of the running themes of the show is tattoos.  Every time an actor has one, or several, Lipton asks them about it.  He whines how he can't have a tattoo because his wife won't allow it.

One of my friends wants a tattoo.  He's a doctor.  His wife won't allow him to have one.  She said it isn't proper for a doctor.  My initial thought is, if it's covered under clothes, how would anyone know?

My second thought is, why are these men allowing their wives to tell them what they can or cannot do with their bodies?  It's their bodies, their life; they can do with it as they wish.  Right?

If my friend wanted to quit his job just because he felt like it, then that's different.  He's the sole breadwinner, and his family depends on him.  But getting a tattoo shouldn't change his wife's love or appreciation for him.  Right?  He's still the same person.

If my friend was single and wanted to quit his job, then he should.  He has to live with the rewards or consequences of doing so, but he's only affecting himself and not anyone else.

Isn't getting a tattoo only affecting the person getting it?

It pisses me off that people try to tell others what to do.  We live in a society of blending in.  You wanna look good and be part of the right group of people?  Wear the right clothes sold at the GAP.  Have your hair this way.  Talk right.  Earn this much.  Color within the lines.

You want a good job?  Get a college degree.  Really?

Shiny

Shiny

Steve Jobs never got one and look at where he is.  Is he an exception?  I don't think so.  In his lecture to Stanford's 2005 graduates, he tells them that he's always lived a life of passion, and followed it.  For him, the incomprehensible dots that led him out of college and into that famous garage wasn't planned, nor could he even see what they would lead to.  Not until he arrived could he connect the dots looking back.

So live your life.  Follow your passions.  You'll never know where they'll lead you.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

iFung Foh

iFung Foh

The iPhone 4 has come out and reviewers from techies such as PC World and financial papers such as The Wall Street Journal have given it two thumbs up.

But it may have one big flaw, or fraw as mother would say. The antenna being on the outside of the phone, making up the glass and metal casing, is causing reception issues when held in a certain way.  How huge they are depends on the strength ot AT&T's signal in that area.

Same sense of fashion

Same sense of fashion

There have been thousands upon thousands of angry complaints, one law suit filed, another on the way, and the Willy Wonka like CEO simply said not to hold it that way.  There were simple solutions like buying a case, or bumper, or using scotch tape to relieve the issue.  Which it does.

Has that stopped the complaints?  No.

There are two basic choices. Keep it or return the damn phone.

I'm a huge fan of Apple and Steve Jobs. Jobs never graduated from college, but by following his heart, he had cofounded one of the most influential companies the world has seen. Many counted the phone maker out when Apple was a few months away from bankruptcy.Many wireless carriers denied Apple a chance when presented with their plans for the iPhone.Now, it's a global phenom.

One of my friends waited nine hours for one.  Geezus Kryst!

Despite the reception issue (it is a phone dammit), most iPhone 4 users, around two million at this point, will not return the phone but relagate to complaining.  People put so much emphasis on the one negative and not see the massive positives and wonder why their lives suck.