"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thoreau's rebellion

We define happiness in so many empty ways.  We see our success and self-worth in the goals we set for promotions, cars, homes, stuff.  Do we do this to fill the emptiness of our soul... to drown out the silence and the self we cannot stand?

A few months ago I was on the back of a motorbike in Thailand, wind whipping through my hair, my small chores accomplished for the day, not a care in the world and an odd feeling of immense pleasure and fulfillment washed over me for no particular reason.  And then back in the city its over and one wonders how to go back to bliss and being in love with life.  How can you be in love with something which is not human but feels just as good?

We ask the wrong questions.  We ask How can I get this?  How can I get that?  We can ask Why do I want this?  What do I want that?  Joseph Campbell said it's not the meaning of life we are looking for but an experience of being alive.

I would challenge anyone to throw their TV's away, spend time away from computers, smartphones, and go live in a developing country or the wilderness for a while.  Modern humans are inundated with hypnotic messages of clever marketers penetrating their minds and planting seeds of inadequacy, dependency, hopelessness.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dave's New Invention #01


A pug bath is this: you fill a bath tub with little pug puppies.  Then you get into the tub carefully making certain not to squash the little dogs.  The excited pugs then lick you clean.  If you don't like being licked by a dog or are allergic to them, then obviously this isn't for you.  Do not fill tub with water!

The idea for this came from my mom's pug Mikey - he licks obsessively.  I know some people will find this 'invention' cruel.  By no means am I suggesting the dogs need to be harmed.  If anything, they should be quite compliant and reliable but rounding up enough pugs to fill a bathtub could be difficult.  You might need to go on craigslist although you're just as likely to find a sociopath as a pug owner.  

Also this might be against the law in your city, state, country or province.  I would advise writing an inquiry letter to municipal, state, and federal government in your respective place explaining Pug Bath, that it poses no harm to pugs, and is beneficial to humans.  If you need a sample letter, send me an email.

Someone asked me if they could substitute, other breeds if there are not enough pugs in the local community.  That is possible but I like to keep pugs with other pugs for aesthetic reasons.  You can't have a real "Pug Bath" with a labradoodle thrown in there.    

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"The Muppets" (2011)

I was excited when this came out.  I watched Jim Henson documentaries on Youtube, cried through a few listens of "Rainbow Connection" and fantasized about being a muppeteer . . . and than a week later when nostalgia had slipped away as easily as she came, I found myself at the theatre watching "The Muppets".

Jason Segel co-wrote and stars in this attempt at a Muppet comeback.  Segel and his brother, a muppet named Walter live in a small 50's style town in a house that only Disney or Pee Wee Herman could have invented.  Amy Adams is Gary's girlfriend of 10 years - she wants more time alone with Gary and feels he's too attached to Walter.   The three of them travel to Hollywood and visit the Muppet Theatre now cobwebbed and neglected.   Enter Statler and Waldorf - the Muppet anti-Muppets, who are in on a deal to sell the theater to evil oil tycoon Richman played by the normally excellent, Chris Cooper.  Walter and Gary go and find Kermit the Frog at the frog's mansion.  There's a hilarious scene where Walter is hurled unsuccessfully over an electric fence; other than that there's not a lot of laughs in this movie.

I had already read Frank Oz, muppeteer of Miss Piggy and Fozzie amongst others had declined to participate in the film.  After seeing "The Muppets" I don't blame him.  That Muppets je ne sais quoi is missing throughout and Walter the Muppet was too cute to be a real Muppet.  This wasn't a film about Muppets as much as a film about a fan of the Muppets.  Jason Segel would have been better writing a story where he and Walter kidnap Kermit and Company and then force them to reenact the fans' favorite scenes. 

The Muppets TV show featured guest hosts - it was a who's who of 70's stars: Sylvester Stallone, the cast of Star Wars, Alice Cooper, and Steve Martin.  It was a show that children watched but I bet the parents got more of the humor.  For example, the Johnny Cash duet with Rowlf is a great reminder of the edgy humor The Muppets had - it was adults muppeteering after all.   See Johnny Cash and Rowlf on Youtube.

Perhaps I'm a purist and maybe the Muppets are way too personal to me, but a word to Jason Segel - stick to romantic comedies!  I won't have a hard time Forgetting Jason Segel.   And Walter - you're just not cut out to be a Muppet.  Give it up.   

There is going to be a better Muppet film some day, until then I am sticking to the likes of "The Muppet Movie" and "The Muppet Show" as the defining work of the Muppets and their creator Jim Henson.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In memory of a rebel, an outlaw and a fath

 On December 4th 1998, my father died after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.  He was 65-years old when he passed. 

It's not easy to put into words, what one feels about our loved ones departed.  What I will remember of him is different than what others remember.  My mother will remember both joy and sorrow, the sad memory of watching your life partner fade.  My brother might remember how our Dad taught him plumbing, how he loved the outdoors, photography and fishing.  My nieces have their own memories of their grandfather, perhaps a quiet old man who liked to tease them.  His friends in Bayonne might remember the dedicated plumber always available at short notice.

He was many things to many different people. To me he was a bit of a rebel . . . a bit outlaw . . . and of course he was my dad.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Customer Service Should be an Amazing Experience

Have you ever had awesome customer service that just rises beyond all expectations? Sometime in 2010, I was a pissed off HP computer customer. I discovered that for the second time, the motherboard failed on my 3 year old laptop. I did not care that the motherboard had been replaced already in the first year I owned it. I wanted them to fix it for free or give me a new one. Although I live in Thailand and bought the laptop in Bangkok, I figured it best to contact HP's CEO in USA.

After my short, crisp email to the CEO detailing my experience with an HP laptop, I was amazed to find an HP Thailand customer service director contacting me. It was simple. All I had to do was bring the laptop down to HP headquarters in Bangkok and they'd take care of me. And they did. I was amazed and my faith in big mega corporations was restored. When I picked up my computer a few weeks later, it worked beautifully and did not overheat.

The point of this little blog entry here is that an irate off customer with a faulty product can be resuscitated and transformed into a very reasonable customer when treated fairly and honestly. The idea of customer service is that the reps have to make the customers forget there is a problem and just be happy some magicians are taking care of it.

Even though, I now use a Mac, I still tell people about my wonderfully positive experience with HP customer service in Bangkok. If I didn't have a good experience, just the mention of HP computers would send me into spiraling bitterness, but the customer service experience saved the day in the end.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How to create value or How to NOT get fired

First of all let me apologize for not posting recently. I'm sorry.

Today's topic you may have guessed already - how to not get fired or how to create value.

The bare minimum to retain employment.

1. Show up on time.

2. Show up clean, appropriately attired, and freshly shaven. Your clothes should be clean and pressed unless you are a garbage man or rock musician.

3. Get along with people even if you don't like them or have little in common with them. If you are an argumentative person maybe you need to get a hobby to release pent-up rage.

4. Don't turn up drunk or stoned. If you are hung over, call in sick.

5. Manage people's perception of you.

6. Don't gossip. Say nice things about people.

(A lot of superficial stuff, I know....)

Create Value beyond just doing the job

1. Listen to people even if you dislike them or have nothing in common with them.

2. Be a problem solver not a problem to solve.

3. Give suggestions and constructive criticism gently. Humility goes a long way.

4. Accept responsibility as opposed to assigning blame.

5. Be positive. Negativity saps energy from people, even the best of us. Learn to change subjects. Learn to let negativity pass you by. Keep your team or colleagues focused on positive things and getting the job done.

6. Build bridges between people. If you are gifted at communication and like to network, this is a natural skill you already have. Bringing people together especially the "right" people together can never be overlooked.

7. Do you remember Ben Kenobi in "Star Wars" or Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings"? They were powerful with the Force and magic respectively; but, they were also the moral compasses and spiritual guides for Luke and Frodo. Everyone needs this kind of mentor. Be a mentor or spiritual guide for someone else.

8. Give credit where credit is due. An old boss of mine once took credit for an idea that he got from me. He mentioned this in front of an entire room full of people and it (amongst other things) created a great sense of resentment and distrust in me towards him. Don't do this! It takes a team to build any organization, company, or athletic team. If you are the leader, you should dish out credit wherever possible (and it doesn't cost anything) but inspires, motivates, and creates a sense of loyalty, respect and trust in an organization. People like being acknowledged for their individual strengths and accomplishments - when a leader takes credit for everything, a wall starts forming between management and employees.

9. Remedy problems with team members immediately. Put out fires or else they spread.

10. You can ask for a lot of things as long as you express gratitude.

That's about all I can think of right now - plus it's a nice even 10! Hope you enjoyed reading and thank you for reading!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Positive and Empowering Language

I have discovered that by being mindful of the language I use - and using positive language - modifying negative thoughts really changes my mood and outlook.

negative examples: I don't want to smoke.
positive: I want to live a long healthy life. I can live smoke-free.

negative: I don't think this relationship is working out.
positive: I think it's best we both go our separate ways.

disempowering language: I don't have enough time.
empowering language: I make time for things that are important to me.

The difference between winners and losers in this life is losers focus on what they don't want, don't like, fear, phobia, et al - get the picture? Winners focus on what they want. With empowering language one is taking responsibility for more than is possible with disempowering language. Even if you think this stuff is bunk, I challenge you to try it - it's free!