Consequences

“Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.”
- Alfred A. Montapert

In a conversation with a friend we talked about respecting reality. People sometimes don’t take into account actions and consequences and prefer to act without thinking. I fall into that category many times and like that fact that I am honest about my feelings. When it comes to actions I am a lot more careful because I think of the consequences.

Burglaries happen all over the world. Listening to the radio the other day I heard of a guy in New York that has had over 30 bikes stolen, and how commit ed he is to still riding. It reminded me of when I was a child and someone tried to steal a kids bike in our neighborhood. The guy was quickly stopped after the screams of “ladron” (thief) alerted some guys a block away. It seems like the whole neighborhood took turns beating the crap out of this dude, I vividly remember an old lady bringing a wooden chair and going WWE on the guy. I am sure the guy never tried to steal any bikes in our neighborhood after that.

The monkey story is a piece of writing that even if purely fiction made me think about consequences. The main character in the story wants to fight a monkey, and if just that does not make you want to read the story, lets just summarize that the guy thinks that “fighting was the purest form of physical expression.” As an adult I have only been in an actual fight (outside of martial arts tournaments) once.

Biggie (aka Aaron) is a good friend from back in Chicago. We have lived many good times and they have often involved the consumption of alcohol. We met while we both were going to college and worked together as ushers at a movie theater. We have been friends since and I became close to both his family and his childhood friends. LOL, I could write a blog just about our friendship, but before I get off topic his family are the ones that taught me how to play monopoly and could not beat me even cheating… good times.

Tony, one of our mutual friends’ house was close to where there was going to be a firework show for the 4th. So we decided to do a little drinking with our regular group of friends and Tony invited a couple of people from the new dealership where he had just gotten a job as a mechanic. One of the guys showed up on an 80′s style Mustang GT that sounded like it had been worked on heavily because of the way it sounded. He surprised me because when he saw that the driveway was already full of cars he decided the best option was the lawn almost perpendicular to my car. Because of the proximity to the fireworks other people were doing the lawn thing and people were migrating towards the near by park.

The guy seemed to have been drinking most of the day and was there with his girlfriend and a younger cousin who was a teenager. Most of us were in our early twenties at the time and the dude was probably in his late twenties or early thirties. We had fun drinking and watching fireworks until an argument started between the dude and his girlfriend. They left right before the end of the fireworks and the rest of us started to migrate back towards Tony’s house.

We could hear the argument had gotten a lot more heated and the poor girl pleading with the dude to please not drive so drunk. The girl was at the window of the vehicle parked very close to mine. The engine roared and the dude started to back the car but miscalculated the turn and caught his girlfriend’s leg between my car and his. Thankfully both of the car’s body gave in and her leg was not crushed but she was definitely trapped between the vehicles. Everyone started banging on the car for him to stop and he finally moved forward but there was damage to both of the cars. He knew he had damaged my car, but I was more worried about the girl and her safety. Drunken dude was more worried about what I was going to tell the police so he ran towards me because I was dumb enough to see if his girlfriend was ok.

Even though he probably could have pummeled me pretty good if sober, he was debilitated by the unreal amount of alcohol he had consumed. Using my Karate Kid knowledge I stopped his punches and was able to hold both of his arms long enough for a Aaron to wrestle him off me. It seemed his anger was now directed at me because I somehow took his girlfriend side on the fight or because my car was not damaged by his but rather by his girlfriend’s leg. His logic had some holes probably when sober, but alcohol made his decision so much more clear.

I never pressed charges because his girlfriend pleaded with me over the dudes previous record and how me calling the cops was going to send him to jail. Alcohol takes away inhibitions, it does not make people angry, it just removes the filter. I don’t know if a beat down would have made him change his ways, but obviously violence was his way to cope with frustration.

Physical violence is a serious thing when it comes to domestic abuse, but is it something that makes communities safer? man feel more masculine? Are you ok with any kind of physical violence, or is it something that just should not exist in a modern society?

Internet Experts

I’m a knowledge junkie. I love being a student and don’t ever want to stop learning. I love acquiring knowledge from other people and if possible experience it. That was the most fascinating part of working as a consultant and working with process improvement. It was my job to learn how something worked and then see what technology made it better. It was geared towards document imaging and workflow and it made me learn a lot about how some aspects of the insurance, health care and automotive industries operate.

My Dad worked for Pepsi down in Colombia. He was the general auditor and I got to spend a lot of time in the bottling plant. I have taken tours and even did a couple of research paper on how the sugar got from the field to the bottle. I learned quite a bit about how that company operated and was even allowed to do data entry when I was very young… it was a green screen computer, but darn it I was working with a computer!

I know a lot of “experts” on their jobs, but a trend that I dislike about the internet is that now people think that reading wikipedia or something online makes them an “expert.”

Sure I do the same thing sometimes when I find a subject I know little about, but I always think of it as my opinion on a subject and not a fact. Not enough to call someone else a liar or wrong because the internet told me so.

The word expert is defined in webster as

- having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

Most of the time when I am going to talk about a quote, I put it first… this time I want to put it right in the middle… mostly because Tom Hopkins gives a couple of great quotes on this subject.

“An expert is someone who knows a lot about the past.”
- Tom Hopkins

“I never take advice from anyone more messed up than I am”
- Tom Hopkins

A while back someone said something about one of their close friends and just that single instance made me think twice about the advice I took from others. The person said, “I like that person a lot, but I would never take their advice.” I looked back and I had seen myself and some of my friends taking advice from people that were nowhere we wanted to be. They were not great moral compasses in our young lives or anything, but still they were “experts” in life telling us how to live and they did not have anything we really wanted in life.

The internet makes a lot of people experts, and in politics, religion and other subjects that were never brought up at the dinner table now everyone is an “expert.” We all talk about the economy, law and finances like we actually know something about. I think that is great, we should be interested and willing to learn. Why I don’t get is calling someone else wrong when you have nothing to back you up in the form of experience.

I wish I was more into drama, but high school was so long ago and I just don’t like to argue if I am not going to learn anything from it. Sometimes though I want to just tell people, you are so wrong is not even funny… but heck, they might be an internet expert.

Coward

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Not too long ago during a conversation with several people around I heard a friend use the word coward about himself. I could not have disagreed more at the time, but I let the conversation play out and observed. I had saved this quote for quite some time, and finally I wanted to pull it out into the light and explore it a little.

Every day takes courage. Some people get into the grind, the routine of it all, the rat race and just move forward… to others it takes a little more effort to face what the day brings. Some people seem to have it easier than others on the energy department, others in the physical. Living takes courage, every day, but what takes even more courage is loving others.

I have seen people afraid to do many things, but the only people that I consider cowards are those that are afraid of love. I think all other good traits in life stem from love. I never imagined that people would be so afraid of receiving love, but in my life I have encountered quite a few.

Interestingly enough there are many people that give love freely, but have a real hard time accepting love. I only know of one case of someone that refused to give love and receive it, not just to one person but to pretty much everyone around them. Many people are selective of who they love, but for the most part there is someone in their life that they can share that with. Some others give love only to those they trust, and I admit loving your enemy is a concept that I have not quite mastered.

The quote from Gandhi has the word exhibit which makes it a little more complex. It takes a lot of courage to ask that girl out that you might have known for a while, or to forgive that relative that has said dumb things to you or to other people you know. It takes a lot of courage to expose your heart and let others in, but even more so to offer it to another human being.

My conversations with my mother in law always come to the same conclusion, love is the most powerful force in the universe. She told me once that faith can conquer it all, and at the time I did doubt it. The situation that she had referred to was just one that I had written off as impossible. Love did win the battle in the end in that situation and made me a little more hopeful about a lot of things in life. I understand that to exhibit love we have to first be capable of feeling it.

I sometimes laugh at the thought of being too sensitive. I learned how to shut down my feelings completely, and for a period of my life I did just that. The I realized that shutting down my feelings also meant not being able to give or receive love freely. I still wrestle with the idea of trusting too much, giving too much, opening myself too much… in the end, I feel that taking the chance is better because, more often than not the love is reciprocated and life for me becomes that much better.

How To Cope With Anxiety

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
- Arthur Somers Roche

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. I would go as far as saying that fear is up there with both love and hate. Even though one can argue, and many have, that fear is more an instinct than a cognitive emotion. While this whole area of psychology it still being debated and research, the simple way to put it is that even without the power of reason, you can still feel fear. However, I believe that fear has become a lot more than the protective mechanism to make us reach when there is perceived danged.

We are going through one of the most complex times in recent history. War is going on in the middle east, but it was also brought to our shores. There is an economic downturn and people are losing their jobs. Our economic system is in shambles right now and even though I am optimistic, there is still fear all around.

An anxiety attack is something that I never heard about when I was younger. Now it is part of our culture and often discussed in movies and TV as the alternative to one of the stars of the show having too much stress when they present heart attack like symptoms. The real question is, how do you deal with it? How do you deal with that build up of worry that eventually turns into an uncontrollable river?

Determine what you have control over and then do something about it. If your budget has been cut down because you do not have a freelance job on the side anymore, then adjust accordingly. If a bank is going to foreclose on your house, do not ignore the letters, call them and try to work something out. If you are afraid that you might lose your job in the current months, get as much out of your insurance as possible now, get your teeth cleaned, new prescription glasses, get into the 3 months subscription mail plan if you take medicines regularly.

When fear strike quickly find out if it is real, and if it is truly going to affect you and deal with it. Come out with a plan of action. If the fear is not real, then learn to not worry about it. Dealing with actual situations instead of worrying things that “could” or “might” happen is a lot more productive.

Last but not least, in this difficult times, appreciate and thank your family and friends. They are the people that will help you determine if a fear is real or not. Talk to others, ask for advice. Even if people worry more than you do, it is good to see someone else be irrational about something, that can help you get a grip on your situation. Dialogue is powerful when it comes to fear, because once it is out there it does not have the same effect. Do not let fear rule your life, quit watching TV if you have to.

Experience

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
-Douglas Adams

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”
-Oscar Wilde

I have posted about the topic of experience before. The catch 22 of employers need for experience, but reluctance to take the time to give someone the opportunity to acquire it, becomes more painful when the economy suffers and new graduates are trying to join the work force. I remember being extremely lucky when I graduated college in 1999; after Y2K it seemed like people had a hard time getting into the IT world because of people realizing that the world did not end… that and not long after the dot com bubble burst.

One of the lessons that I now call experience, is silence. I love knowledge and discussion, I read as much as I can and I love watching educational TV shows. I can probably comment on most topics, and when it comes to martial arts or computers you can hardly shut me up. I now know how annoying I must have been when I would have something to say about everything. I know that unless I have some deep knowledge of the subject, “I don’t know” is always a better answer.

Knowing enough to be dangerous is something I have found to be very true in my field. Practical knowledge cannot be replaced by knowing a book from cover to cover. The smartest programmers I have met seem to always forget the people that they are writing the software for. When you write software with yourself in mind, you become very frustrated when people do not do what you think they are supposed to do. Some of the worse cases I have seen get very upset with users for not using their software right. It seems these people don’t ever get past the sixteen year old mentality of “I am always right.”

Gathering experience is an expensive process for companies. Many people think that it is about just paying your dues when you enter a field, but it goes beyond that. Listening to your users, or just having them in mind when you code, is something you learn as you fail implementing a new feature. However some people might be in the field for years and never learn that simple lesson.

This is one of the lessons that I have seen most people refuse to learn or be told. Many programmers I have met dig their heels in the ground and refuse to make their application more user friendly. Some even go as far as considering their job done as soon they think something works and not waiting until the users have truly accepted things.

Do you have any examples of people not learning from experience, closing their eyes and refusing to learn?

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