The Sea

Let me tell you my theory about romantic relationships, attraction, and dating, albeit with the caveat that I am not a huge game buster and I do not "score" a lot of girls.
 
The quality of the girls I date is superb, even though the quantity may be less than other people see. It is totally a quality vs. quantity thing.
 
You probably know some people who score tons of dates, often very transient (one night stands), just one after the other. They put some kind of bait in the water and it attracts hundreds of "fish." But what is the quality of those fish? They are, almost by definition, not keepers.
 
Admittedly, I have not landed that many keepers myself. When I do, however, the quality of the relationship is always better. When you go fishing, it is always more fun to hook that big keeper as far as a quality catch. They give you a run for your money, feisty and fun. Sometimes they get away. A bit disappointing, but you don't mope about it. You rebait your hook and throw it back in the water. When I land a keeper romantic partner, I expect them to be high quality, a trophy.
 
Rejection does not bother me. It's really just bad decision making on the part of the other person. Because I know that I am a quality catch myself, I can only attribute rejection to poor analytical skills on the girl's part.
 
A better analogy is a car sale. A potential partner wants an enjoyable ride that is both safe and comfortable, balanced with fun and with as many perks and add ons as possible, but low maintenance and a best value. Sometimes safety trumps enjoyment. I have a platonic girlfriend who is with another man because she feels safe and secure with him. He is a stable provider. But she platonically dates me because I give her a type of intellectual joy ride she cannot get in that relationship, but that she needs. It's like having a fuel efficient safe car for most of your daily driving, but a little sporty number on the side to take for a spin when the family car is just too boring (in our case, we have lunch a couple times a year).
 
You have to sell yourself like a car. What are all your plusses and do they outweigh any perceived minuses, or can you downplay the minuses and augment the plusses. Be an awesome car, not a gas guzzling beater. Maintain your car health and clean it regularly. These are basic acceptable minimums for most people. Beyond that you need to sell yourself on the perks and benefits the competitors lack. Be a fun ride. Don't break down by the side of the road, at least not too often. Make it a smooth ride with not too many ups and downs or potholes. Have a good sound system and taste in music. Give your passengers some AC when they need it. Dont just roll down the windows on a hot day to save yourself some gas.
 
But also don't be sad when a customer turns down your awesome car. Maybe he or she just found a make and model he or she likes better. If it is because your car sucks, make it better. Do some body work or refurnish the interior so it's more comfy and smells nice. There will be more customers soon. But customers are finicky. Perhaps they had a bad experience with a car like yours before. Perhaps they want something with fewer miles on it, even if your collector antique still runs like a charm. Sometimes they just make a wrong decision and end up with a junker lemon when they could have had you.
 
Whatever you do, don't give chase in your car. Once the customer has decided against buying your car, there is little hope of changing their mind. Immediately start niche marketing for new customers who like what you have to offer. Later, when your missed catch sees you cruising around having fun, he or she will have a reckoning to do. Their loss.
 
But if you are selected, be a fun, safe, and reliable ride if you want to be his or her car for life, or at least a long time. Focus on yourself, meaning becoming an awesome person who has good personal hygiene and looks and smells and sounds nice. Be the best you can be in every way and simply "charm" people into seeing your awesomeness. Then they will desire a ride in your romantic car. When people see what a great catch you are, they will be hooked (fish analogy again). If they still reject you, it's not you...it's them.
 
But once they choose you, if you prove reliable and fun over time, you will have a long and healthy relationship.
 
Don't try to change the other person. First off, that is nigh impossible. People are who they are because of years of life experiences. Are you really going to undo that? Do you need to? If you think a person needs a lot of changing, can't you just ditch them and find someone who does not require too much "fixing." Is that not a better and easier approach than trying to change the unchangeable?
 
Second, it breeds resentment in the other person. They may like the way they are and think they don't need much fixing. Or they may want to make some changes on their own terms, not on yours. So when you demand change, they may resent you. That will kill any long term relationship. It erodes the pillar of trust when you do not trust someone to make his or her own life choices. It erodes the pillar of respect when you demand changes because you do not think someone is good enough.
 
Each individual in a relationship should just focus on being awesome and adaptable to any situation, like a good car. Almost impossible in practice, but totally correct in principle. Relationships with fun, healthy, reliable people are the best. They still might not last due to fundamental differences or insurmountable life circumstances.
 
But no amount of self sacrifice can spare a relationship if the individuals in it are unreliable, insecure, or weak sauce. Healthy secure people can navigate the wild seas of relationships way better than weak and insecure people. So we are back to THE SEA analogy.

Work to Live

There is a time and a place for work, and this is not the time nor place, even though I am at work.

I work to live. I do not live to work.

Someday you (and I) are going to die. Will your life have been in vain? Will the epitaph on your headstone say: “I wish I had spent a few more hours working my shitty job.” Or will it say: “I accomplished most of my bucket list and got halfway through my first space mission, before things went south.”

I have a pretty benign bucket list. I want to write a book this year, and I have been working hard at it. It only sucks when my day job gets in the way, so I have been trying to prevent that by getting all my work done and minimizing unnecessary time at work, such as stupid meetings.

In the time saved, I work on my book. At the office.

Bands and Girlfriends

I had a great talk with a female friend at lunch today.

We were talking about monogamy, or the lack thereof.

Our hypothetical was a totally fabricated scenario wherein a guy is dating 10 women at the same time, but committed to none.

The question was what does this guy have an obligation to tell each one about the other nine?

My friend made the good point that the guy may not disclose his other nine liaisons out of fear that the girl will not want to be with him anymore.

Conversely, the guy has nine other girls to choose from. If his personality is such that he cannot commit to a monogamous relationship, he should disclose this and be fully honest. Honesty is the best policy.

But, if he withholds the information because he does not want to lose this particular girl’s romance, then perhaps he values her more highly than the other 9 and ought to consider if perhaps it is the other nine girls he ought to get rid of and focus on the one he really likes.

But my friend made the point that there might be some things about each girl that are unique and that he cannot get from the other girls.

I think if he knows that telling a girl about the other nine will push her away, then he must know that the girl has stronger feelings for him and it is his duty to be fair and honest. She has a right to know the facts and make her decisions rationally. Otherwise, he is being deceptive and manipulative.

On the other hand, if he is sequentially dating all 10 women, but is committed to none, then on any given date with one of the girls, there is no guarantee that there will be another date with this girl, because that would imply commitment to further dating, which the hypothetical does not allow.

In that case, does the guy have to disclose the other nine girls. Because, in theory, he has dated the other nine previously, but he is currently with the 10th, and there is no reason to assume he will go on a date with any of the other nine subsequent to the current date. The other nine may turn him down or he may just not ask them out. But as soon as the current date is over, this girl now becomes a prior date, with no commitment to future dates. At that point he should be free to date anyone, because he is technically single when he is between dates.

If he goes on a second date with any girl, that still does not necessitate a commitment.

What are your thoughts?

Anyway, this is the backstory to a somewhat relevant topic, band whoring.

I play bass guitar and I have several bands in various states. I cannot commit to any of them, because bands and musicians are notoriously flaky. But when I am rocking with any given band, I am only focused on that band and giving it my all. I am the same way with the next band I play with and I am always playing with one band at a time, first come first served with my bass playing skills, whatever they may be.

However, I have known bands who want their musicians to be “monogamous” and dedicated only to them. If I am going to be monogamous to a band, they have to show an extremely high level of professionalism and reliability. Almost no bands have this, and so whenever I try out for bands who demand monogamous bass playing from me, I tell them I cannot make that commitment. Sometimes they reject me because of that, and that is totally fine and OK. I have to be me.

But I would never lie to a band about my band whoring. I explain that I take a laissez faire approach to bands. Each band gets from me what it gives. If they are a bunch of disorganized slackers, I am going to end up playing bass with the organized, dedicated professionals more often.

So this is similar to the dating hypothetical above. If a girl is going to demand monogamy, she has to prove her worthiness of that monogamy by being a top notch dating candidate. At the same time, I have no problem telling her that I am dating multiple people. She may reject me because of that, and it is OK. On the other hand, if she is awesome and intelligent and with it, there is a high likelihood I could commit to being monogamous, just because all the other girls will fall by the wayside for being weak sauce. It’s like free market economics of romance.

There is a country band I play in. They are dedicated, excellent, professionals. I would have no issue with becoming a monogamous bass player for this band. The problem is, this band does not gig very much. It would be like dating an awesome girl who only wants to see you every couple of months. That would be tough. As such, I will continue to band whore until such time as this band ups its performance game, requiring a monogamous commitment.

Honesty is not Always the Best Policy

People don't like reality. They prefer fantasy. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. Reality is everywhere, all around us. It's common and humdrum and we can NEVER escape it.

Fantasy provides that escape, and it becomes more and more in demand as reality becomes more and more difficult to bear. This is especially true in romance.

When it comes to romance, people want the fantasy. They want an illusion. When reality encroaches on the illusion, it causes all kinds of troubles.

When a romantic relationship first begins, it has a "shine" to it. People see what they want to see in the other person and it creates an illusion of a fantastic romantic relationship.

However, over time, this initial "shine" wears off and reality encroaches. That is the hardest period of any relationship. You have to consider if the reality of the person you are with is acceptable. Do you like the person for who they really are and how they really behave, after the illusion wears off.

I am friends with a woman who is my "platonic girlfriend." We are not romantically involved because she is married. However, we are very close, because I fulfill for her something she does not get in her other relationship, an intellectual stimulation. I am her fantasy.

By the same token, I have had many awesome relationships. When I am in a relationship with someone, I do not tell them I have a "platonic girlfriend." That kind of honesty disrupts their illusion that I am fully committed to them romantically, even though there is nothing but friendship between my platonic girlfriend and I.

However, the reality is, if my platonic girlfriend suddenly found herself single, I cannot say that we would not become romantically involved. In such a fantasy realm (because this will never happen), I would be honest with whoever I was with at the time and tell her that I had to break up with her to be with my soul mate.

Honesty is not always the best policy. But sometimes it is.

For the Wisconsin Capitol Protesters

Dear Protesters Against the Fascist WI Capitol Police.

Fight their music with your music.

Free Agency vs. Fear and Debt

What is free agency?

It is a mindset that says you are a free agent in the universe, capable of creating your own destiny.

The FREE part is pretty straightforward. It means the liberty to exercise your life the way you want to, beholden to no one. Sometimes you may choose to collaborate with others for mutual benefit, but it is always a choice. You can walk away.

The AGENT part means “to represent.” That means that you are representing and going to bat for YOURSELF, not anyone else. You might help other people and support important causes, but ultimately, you represent yourself in all interactions and you have a right to benefit yourself.

However, because you are a FREE AGENT, you can choose to represent whatever you want, yourself, a cause, art, etc. The key thing is that you do it freely and without coercion.

Eliminating coercive forces is critical to free agency. Fear and debt are two such negative forces that work against free agency.

When you have a job, there is an inherent fear of losing your job, even though it is often an exaggerated fear. Most of the time, the fear has to do with money, and specifically debt (essentially having negative money) that must be paid. You don't want yourself or your family in the poor house.

Corporate America and the government love consumer debt. It keeps people scared and beholden to the power players who employ people and decide social policy. Employers have a form of psychological control over employees who have debts, even home mortgages. The debts have to be paid, thus you need a job. The fear of losing one’s job keeps people working in jobs they don’t like with people they despise. The government uses debt fear to maintain social programs for the unemployed, but they also like debt because it keeps people working and paying taxes. The government also does not want to raise the minimum wage, because it would free more people from debt, and make them more difficult to control. This is the ONLY reason power players oppose raising the minimum wage. They will give you tons of other reasons, some of them possibly legitimate, because they don’t want to admit that it basically boils down to POWER over people. That is the real and only reason they do not want to raise minimum wage, no matter what arguments they may use to rationalize it.

You must eliminate fear to be a free agent in the universe. As such, you must eliminate debt, if that is something that you fear and that keeps you working a grind you do not like. Debt is a form of self imposed slavery. But it is a yolk that can be removed if you want to remove it. It may take time. But if you do not work toward it, you will never be free.

Corporate America and the government hate this post.

The Shock in Discovering Your Pro Sound Team is Bigoted and Racist

I somehow stumbled upon a festering open wound of bigotry and racism in Wisconsin when one of the members of the pro sound team I was considering using for my band liked and shared on Facebook THIS gem of a racist diatribe.

At first, I honestly thought she was pulling my leg. But I think she really believes this and hates black people.

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, even if they are sick and twisted.

But here's the thing. I can't hire these people as my sound crew.

It's not that I hold their beliefs against them.

It is that my rock-n-roll shows are about love and understanding and having a good time for all.

To hire this sound crew would introduce extremely bad karma to my rock shows. I can't do that to my people, which is ALL people.

Unlimited Vacation and Making Time for Writing

Some companies are going to a system of "unlimited vacation" for employees.

I like the idea of it. It tells the employees that management trusts them to make their own work/life balance decisions and to get their work done on their own timetable. It theoretically promotes a climate of personal responsibility at the workplace. If you work on a team, you do not want to be the weak link in the chain, or you will not last long and you'll be despised. So you are answerable to yourself and your team, not THE MAN.

Employees are then evaluated on a rational metric: did they satisfactorily get their work done. If not, then they should be treated accordingly, reprimanded or let go. It's a metric of eliminating weak sauce.

It takes bold management for such a system to work. They need to establish explicit, measurable work goals and facilitate getting employees to get a minimum level of work done before jetting of to Burning Man or Hawaii or backpacking in Europe. Weak sauce management would not cut it in such a system.

My current employer uses an accrual model for vacation. Each pay period, an employee accrues a fractional amount of paid time off they can redeem later on. There are two problems with this. First, the metric of performance is not the work that gets done, but rather how many hours the employee worked. It is assumed that work productivity is linearly correlated with hours put in, but as we know from experience, an employee could pick their arse all day and still achieve the metric. I have coworkers who seem to do this very thing. Employees are reprimanded for not putting in enough hours, but not for failing to get their work done. It's not logical.

Second, this model lets management of the hook for being leaders and facilitators. Since the metric is hours put in, they can overlook poor work performance and not have to reprimand or terminate employees who slack off, as long as they get their hours in.

The company I work for is in fiscal dire straits. Their current vacation model is totally f-ed up. Even though they grant PTO fractionally, employees are not allowed to redeem it fractionally. We have to take it in eight hour increments, even though the buggy online app they use to track vacation time is totally capable of recording fractional time off. This is very inconvenient, especially for employees who have kids and just need to take a couple hours off for doctor's appointments or day care issues. An employee has to take a whole day off just to run a couple of errands. Stupid.

From an accounting standpoint, accrued employee PTO is recorded as "debt" to the company, because it is technically owed to the employee by the company. To cook the books, my employer went to a system of mandatory PTO, forcing employees to redeem time off before the end of the fiscal accounting year. However, there was so much employee resistance to this that they backed off, and instead "encouraged" employees to use vacation before the end of the year. No one is going to do this, because management has lost all credibility with employees where I work. They could solve the problem by going to unlimited vacation. Before the greasy corporate overlords from California bought out my company, the prior management had a compromise vacation model. You accrued vacation, but you were allowed to go into negative vacation if you needed it, as long as you accrued back a positive amount by the end of the year. It seems to be a good compromise. The weak sauce employees couldn't just go on an indefinite hiatus, as they would under an unlimited model. Accounting-wise, the company could subtract negative PTO from positive PTO to cook the books and appear financially stronger than they are. Management could still be useless and ineffective at getting employees to be more productive.

On the other hand, in an unlimited vacation model, there is, on paper, no accrued vacation. You just take time off when you need it. You could cut a few HR people, because they would not be needed to track employee time off. Workers know what they need to do to get their work done, and in this model they are actually more productive in a given time period, especially when they know they will be out of the office for a time. They plan ahead, delegate, cooperate, and are far more efficient as a result.

However, management would have other headaches under such a system, mostly related to the fact that current employees aren't used to the new model. They are used to inefficiency and apathy. Management would have to actually lead and measure the productivity goals of employees. Employees would have to be motivated and efficient, but sadly, there would be some employees, used to the old way, who would simply disappear "on vacation" and never be seen again. From my view, that's totally fine. These individuals are already useless to the organization, picking their arses all day as they do. On the other hand, smart management would simply cut them loose and backfill their positions with people who like their jobs, are self-motivated, and take personal responsibility for their work, instead of passing the buck.

Current management is not smart, so there would first need to be an overhaul of middle management by visionary upper management. That will never happen where I work, so this post has really just been an exercise in free writing.

Perhaps a Post

I power walked to lunch today. I used to power walk with a coworker sometimes and we would have superb conversations about how to solve all the world's problems. But then the company I work for canned her for being too hard working and for caring about people and processes. Typical corporate bass ackwardness. Curse them for losing me my power walk compadre. Not that we cannot still power walk. We are friends outside of work after all. But now it is not as convenient. Well, that's not true. Since she is transitionally unemployed it is actually probably even more convenient for her. But the benefit of her being a coworker was that we could justify doing it on company time as "team building." There was probably also a business case for it being a wellness activity, saving the company money on health insurance costs. Anyway, it may not be long before I leave the company as well. For the past 6 months, I have been waiting for them to make process improvements in documentation. I and my team are subject matter experts on documentation. So I have been available as a resource, waiting for them to come to me and ask how they could make it better. They haven't yet, and instead made unilateral decisions and poor choices so that the process is even worse than six months ago. Lean 6 Sigma is highly overrated in my opinion. That is the continuous process improvement standard that guides middle management where I work. Six months ago, I had a lucrative job offer in Iowa. I accepted it and was totally preparing to leave my current employer. When I gave my notice, they made me a ridiculously high counter offer. Even then it was a tough decision to stay and I sometimes regret it. But I decided to give them six months to turn things around in my area, technical documentation. Right after accepting the counter offer, I proactively prepared a proposal indicating ways to improve documentation processes. I was slapped down and ignored for that effort. So then I made it explicitly clear that I and my team of documentation subject matter experts were a ready and willing available resource to assist in streamlining documentation. They took that as an invitation to become glorified administrative assistants for all manner of documentation incompetencies within engineering. It was totally reactionary, not visionary and made almost every problem worse. Now the engineers think it is standard practice to throw all their documentation hurdles at us. We don't have time for that. If they had just improved the processes as we proposed, they could have avoided so much lost time and inefficiency. Well now their six month probation period has come to an end and my assessment is hands down that documentation improvements are a resounding FAIL. I once thought it was impossible to give a negative grade for unsatisfactory work. But I have to assign one to my current employer. That also means that all bets are off. I have to make null and void any deal to remain here. They had every opportunity to do the right thing. I guess they thought I was bluffing. Sadly, I hold all the cards, with currently three new job prospects in the works. All they had to do was listen to the experts. Good leaders recognize talent and tap it. Bad leaders think they can do it better. That is why all the good talent has been leaving my current employer in droves. As such, I must now also leave the sinking ship. Too bad. There was a lot of potential, which they willfully flushed down the drain.

America the Irrational

Ideology is counterproductive to rational thinking and behavior. Ideology is the opposite of rationalism. The difference is pretty straightforward.

Ideology is a belief system you adopt a priori and upon which certain facts are cherry picked that support the belief system, while inconsistent facts are ignored or rejected. A good example of this is when conservative ideologues refer to the mainstream media as "the liberal media."

Mainstream media tends to be fairly unbiased, to a fault. There is some selection bias as to what topics and issues MM chooses to cover, but they usually give equal time to both sides of a controversial issue that is covered. The equal time practice can actually introduce some artifactual bias when there is an ideological imbalance on a given topic. For example, 95% of climate scientists agree there is human caused global warming. Because both sides of the debate get equal time in the mainstream media, it gives the false impression that the scientific consensus is about evenly split.

But I am off topic. My thesis here is that ideological thinking leads one away from rational thought.

No one is without some degree of bias or ideology in their beliefs, the "expert's mind," in the parlance of Zen Buddhism. But in the abstract, rational thinking begins with an open mind and skepticism. You may believe something to be true, but you are open to the possibility it may be false and you gather data to determine this one way or another. Your goal is to attempt to disprove your own belief about something by gathering as much information as possible. Failure to disprove your belief, with a hefty amount of available evidence, supports the belief, but does not necessarily prove it. Rational thinking cannot really prove anything. It is designed for disproving things and failure to disprove something only strengthens its likelihood of being true.

But rational thinkers do not fear facts and evidence the way ideological thinkers do. That is the difference. There are rational and ideological thinkers all over the political spectrum. You can recognize the ideologues because they become very hostile and defensive in the face of evidence contrary to their beliefs (such as decrying a news story as "liberal media conspiracy"). Rationalists are more neutral to contrary evidence and weigh its credibility with respect to the greater body of factual evidence on a given topic. So they tend to be easier to talk to and more open to debate and discussion, without the vitriole of the ideologues. But conservative vs progressive is a fallacious controversy. There are ideologues on all sides.

The controversy is really between ideology and rationalism. Most people don't get that.

Don't be ideological. And if you are rational, don't engage ideologues in conversation. It is counterproductive. Seek out other rational thinkers, even or especially those with other views and the evidence to back it up.