Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.”

“Don’t think about what you could have done differently.”

“Don’t beat yourself up.”

“Let the past go.”

Sayings we’ve all heard before. But are they valuable bits of wisdom, or valid, empty words?

Thats right! It’s time for more axiometry, my made-up word for examining common aphorisms and figuring out if they really make any sense:

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

There are many variants of this particular axiom, but they all focus on the same thing: regret.

Ah, regret. A favorite topic of mine. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you should know how I feel about regret:

Carry around your past regrets, not as an anchor, but as a guide.

So you maybe you think you already know where I come down on this particular axiom.

But as with everything , we shall see. Continue reading “Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.””

Sartorial College

I used to think that fashion was stupid, dressing up was for stiffs, and that society had gotten to the point where what you do and who you are matter more than how you look.

And then I started working.

Suddenly, all of that boring, corny stuff my parents used to say made sense.

You see, humans are visual beings, and first impressions are powerful things. There is science behind all of this, but I’m both a lawyer and a man who knows my limitations, so I won’t go down that rabbit hole here. 

I have learned something else though: Second impressions matter too. And third. And fourth. And so on. 

How you present yourself carries over not only into your business and personal relationships, but also in how you carry yourself

Again, the explanatory  science is out there. You have the Internet. Search amongst yourselves. 

Me, I have trouble working if I’m not dressed up. I wear a suit and tie to work everyday, and have for the past eight years, even when the dress code at my workplace has been relaxed. 

What kills me about this more than anything are the comments I get:

  • “Aren’t you hot in that?”
  • “It’s Friday, you know.”
  • “Alex always look sharp…like a movie star.” (Someone actually said this to me)

And my favorite:

  • “You’re making the rest of us look bad!”

To which I say, you’re making me look good. Thanks! Continue reading “Sartorial College”

Confusion is the Enemy

Nobody likes being told what to do. But we can shrug most of it off.

“I like your hair better short.”

“Maybe not the red tie?”

“You should do your lawn like this.”

“Your breath stinks, man! Chew some gum or something!”

No big deal.

But when it comes to questions of morality or right or wrong? Things that we maybe should be willing to listen to outside input about?

“You know, maybe sleeping with fifteen girls a week, sans protection, isn’t the best idea.”

“Fraud is wrong. Knock it off or I’m turning you in.”

“Crack is wack, yo.”

We go nuclear!

Why?

The mere mention of anything touching these dimensions can make even the most self-proclaimed, brave, “I-never-get-offended” free-speech proponent go bonkers and try to shut you up.

Why? Continue reading “Confusion is the Enemy”

Feeding the Perfection Beast

Today is February first. In addition to things like Black History Month, President’s Day, and whatever else is celebrated in February,* it also marks the beginning of the annual RPM Challenge

Think of the RPM Challenge as the musical equivalent of November’s National Novel Writing Month. The Challenge, which started in my home state of New Hampshire back in 2006 by local music magazine The Wire, is a call to record either 35 minutes or 10 tracks worth of new music in the month of February. 

It’s a lot of fun. Or would be, if I ever finished the challenge. 

Unlike National Novel Writing Month, which I accomplished this year, the several times I’ve began an RPM Challenge project, I never finished it. 

The one time I sort of did was in 2009 when I played bass on my brother’s album. He’s finished the challenge four or five times, now, maybe more. And he has more kids than I do. 

Me, I always petered out somewhere along the line, sometimes due to time restrictions, sometimes due to technical or equipment difficulties, but usually due to being my own worst enemy. 

You see, back when I had the music equipment and the space to record, I fell into the thrall of that dreaded monster perfection.

Perfection is one mean bastard. He gets into your head and makes you think you’re some kind of rock star when you’re really just a dude with a 9-to-5 and a hankering to pretend, just for a few hours here and there, that you’re something bigger than you really are. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

This is the difference between me and my brother: I let perfection play on my immaturity and narcissism. My brother, while only a year and some change older than me, got married, started a family, and finished school far younger than I did. 

In short, he grew up faster. 

He knew the value of time and realism. He didn’t dicker around with trying to get everything just right. No, he said to himself, and I’m making this up based on observations but bear with me, “There is something I want to do. If I do X, Y, and Z for this amount of time every day, I will accomplish what I set out to do.”

He had a goal, and a system to achieve that goal. 

Process and not perfection. 

In short, he went for it. 

Me, not so much.  Continue reading “Feeding the Perfection Beast”

Other People

It’s always about “other people,” isn’t it?

When we judge, we act like we alone are uniquely above any criticism. Everyone else is the problem. We’re the solution. 

We all do it, even those of us who try to be aware of it

Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Words to life by right? 

Yes. But this isn’t a command to never judge–take a look at the next part:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

–Matthew 7:1-2

In other words, be very careful what you say to others. And don’t be a hypocrite. 

Of course, evil should be judged harshly. Or things that can lead to evil. But don’t be so self-righteous to think yourself immune from this, or bristle when you get the same treatment from others. 

To many, evil is subject to interpretation. I tend to stick with immutable principles like those given by God, but your mileage may vary. 

So that’s evil. But what about stuff you disagree with? Or that you just find silly or annoying?

What about other people’s habits and mannerisms that just irk you?

“They do this, they do that, they just piss me off!”

But maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you.

If what other people do doesn’t affect you, or isn’t evil or doesn’t lead to evil, who cares?

In other words, pick your battles. Make them worthy of your time, energy, and judgment. 

As with most good things, though, this is easier said than done. 

I fall into this all the time. Social media makes it easy. 

Mockery is fun. Ridicule is a coping mechanism. Complaining lets off steam. 

But I wonder: What do people say about me and people like me?

Probably stuff I would object to as untrue

Exactly what other people say. 

Someone has to be right though, don’t they? Something has to be true and the other false. 

Usually. 

I know we’re a divided nation, and that’s fine. There needs to be a contrast between different ideas and their consequences. 

This is why my maxim is to attack ideas and not people. Continue reading “Other People”

Uncivil Society

How do you know it’s time for a divorce? The answer is different for every couple, but sometimes taking to the streets and smashing and burning stuff when you don’t get your way is a good sign. 

I’m obviously talking about this week’s U.S. presidential inauguration, culminating with the actual swearing in of our county’s new president today.

And people can’t talk about this without losing their minds!

You might be screaming “Not my president!” at the screen right now. Sure. Okay. But reality being what it is, he is your president, like it or not. 

And one half of the country clearly does not like it, to the point that they’re trying to stop the swearing in from happening. How, I’m not quite sure, but it sure sounds violent. 

There are two certainties about politics though, which you need to keep in mind:

  • There is fraud in every single election going back over 100 years. 
  • Everybody wants integrity and ethics until their guy gets in office. And then it’s time for defense mode. 

You’re dreaming if you believe otherwise. 

Like I’ve said before, people (read: rioters) are governed by their worst-case fantasies

Listen: Nobody will be rounded up into internment camps. That seems to be everybody’s biggest fear. But it is not going to happen. 

    And yet here we have rioting based on fantasies. 

    Even if things start going really well for the country, expect more rioting and agitation for the next four years. 

    I find it hilarious that so-called anti-fascist movements the world over are some the most violent, fascisistic, and yes, racist and hate-filled people around. 

    Anyway, my point is this: I don’t see how the country will ever “unite” or “heal.”

    I mean, it’s not even policies at this point. It’s fundamentally different views of human nature.

    This divide has been there for generations, but I would say that the year 2000 was the turning point. It might be irreconcilable now. We’ll see, but I’m not hopeful. 

    The days of each side wanting the same thing, but differing on the approach, are over. The end goals are completely different. 

    Decent people on either side can coexist. But there are enough radical, violent, and well-funded nutbags with evil intent around to ruin things for everyone. 

    Good job. 

    So what happens after Trump is sworn in? I don’t know. All I can hope for, as I did on Election Day, is that nobody dies. 

    Of course, someone did die on Election Day. Because this is America in the 21st century. 

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    Theater of the Mind

    There is no more powerful force than the human imagination. People live their lives according to what they think is true more than what actually is. 

    No kidding, right? It’s a pretty good heuristic: “That mean-looking son-of-a-bitch over there with the knives and stuff sure looks dangerous…think I’ll stay away from him.”

    But there are also those, shall we say, less-than logical manifestations of this tendency. 

    Let me provide some context: I work in DC. The presidential inauguration is in a few days. You can imagine the talk swirling across the country finds itself here. 

    And I have to laugh at a lot of it, even though a lot of it scares me. 

    Scares me?

    It absolutely scares me. Because some people’s actions are guided solely by what they imagine is the case. 

    There are people with important, high-stakes jobs like airline pilot, doctor, and lawmaker who think that we are one step away from having things like internment camps and death squads. The one-hundred percent think–no, know–that slavery is this close to being reinstated. 

    And how many times do people tell you “All X are Y”? “All Christians are bigots. All Muslims are terrorists. All blacks are criminals.” And so on. 

    Again, this goes back to heuristics: One bad experience with a group taints one’s view of them, yet one good experience never changes anybody’s mind for the positive. 

    Survival. I get this. But letting our imaginations get the best of us has huge implications 

    When somebody thinks they’re Napoleon, we sent them to the loony bin. But act like we are all dead if we don’t pass a certain piece of legislation right now, and you become a national hero. 

    And back to Inauguration Day: “All Republican voters are evil and Trump is Hitler reincarnate. Let’s throw bricks at them!”

    Which leads me to an important point: If we all live based on what we think is going on, who is right? What is what?

    I don’t know.  Continue reading “Theater of the Mind”