The Work Movie – Powerful, Raw, Abrasive, Uplifting

I subscribe to Tim Ferriss’ newsletter known as 5-Bullet Friday. I’ll scan for interesting tidbits from time to time as I’m always curious what other people are seeing, doing, watching, reading that makes them take pause to think. Last week’s newsletter highlighted a movie called The Work. This documentary chronicles a program that is conducted at Folsom state prison in California whereby a number of hardened convicts in prison for a number of felonies related to gang activity or other offenses such as murder are brought together with men from the outside in an interesting group therapy over the course of 4 days. I just watched the movie on Amazon Prime Video (trailer) and was absolutely blown away. I don’t write about movies at all other than maybe on Facebook if I was bragging about a Marvel movie or something superficial like that. But I felt compelled to write about my experience with this movie.

The movie has won a series of awards at several film festivals. While I never heard of it until Tim mentioned it in his newsletter, I’m grateful I took the time to rent it online. It’s hard to describe the variety of emotions and thought processes I experienced during the hour and half long movie.

  • Disgust
  • Judgement
  • Skepticism
  • Interest
  • Curiosity
  • Emotional abrasion
  • Raw intensity
  • Fear as I look inward
  • Inspiration
  • Deep sadness
  • Regret
  • Enlightenment
  • Surprise
  • Contemplation
  • Happiness
  • Satisfaction

That last one was what capped it off for me as I went through this roller coaster ride during the movie observing these outwardly tough (some might say bad or evil) men expose their inner selves in ways that I’ve never observed nor experienced even in my own therapy sessions during different parts of my life and growth. One really has to listen, immerse yourself into what they are saying, what they are going through, watch the skin peel back from their bones and they make themselves absolutely vulnerable and raw. Watch the intensity of the emotions come exploding out while the other’s around them form almost a castle, a fortress protecting that raw-ness, bringing forth out more vulnerability as that raw intensity starts its metamorphosis into healing, hope, and understanding.

The satisfaction was mainly from finally seeing that even in that most violent environment of a prison that there is hope. And if there can be hope among men serving double life + 55 year sentences, then there can be hope anywhere else. There is also understanding and unity. If current and former members of the Bloods, Aryan Brotherhood, Indian Brotherhood, or other gangs and cliques can see through the colors, symbols, past histories, and transgressions, then we can all come together in understanding and embracing one another with whatever political leanings, individual perspectives, biases, color, preferences, or world views we may have. I believe this. I truly do.

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Apple Thinks I’m Two-Faced

I’m a self-professed lover of all things Apple. Caveat:Mostly because I do use Amazon Alexa all throughout my house. But everywhere else, it’s all Apple – IPhones, new MacBook Pro, Apple TVs, IPads, IMac, iCloud for all my backups, and Apple Watches.

I’ve loved the iPhone X and, in particular, Face ID. It has worked like a charm reliably and consistently…until today. What happened today? I shaved my beard off. Mind you, prior situations I’ve worn hats or sunglasses and have successfully unlocked the X and apps with Face ID. But today I shaved my beard and Face ID did not recognize me. No worries. I went through the reset process and re-registered my “new” face with Face ID.

I’m intrigued by this for a few reasons.

  • Did it work before with hats or sunglasses due to a vulnerability? Or was the AI of Face ID’s computer vision algorithm THAT good?
  • For the same reason, when I shaved today, did it stop working because it legitimately “saw” a different person?
  • In the broader topic of “explainable AI”, can we mere mortals in fact determine or predict what the true outcome should be for instances like this? Because if we can’t, then I’m sure the hackers will.

If we expand this facial recognition to the larger world around us, will I start getting advertisements, traffic tickets, or be placed on some “watch list” the next time I grow a bear or shave in the future? Many companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies dream of the day of large-scale facial recognition and action ability of that recognition to make more money, surveillance, or arrests. Or is that simply the looming nightmare for the rest of us?

All The Ways

I’ve lived in Portland for almost 5 years now…how time flies! There are many unique characteristics about Portland, though I’m going to keep this post relatively simple. If you want to explore all the quirkiness of Portland, go catchup on Portlandia on Netflix. One of the most notable characteristics about Portland that is quite unique from any other city that I’ve lived in is as follows. You’re looking to cross the street. It may or may not be at a crosswalk. In fact, let’s say you decide to cross the street between intersections in the middle of the block. Disclaimer: These experiences are mine and mine alone, and do not guarantee that everyone will have the same experiences.

You step off the curb to look both ways to see when it’s safe to cross the street. I grew up in Chicago so I’m VERY diligent in finding a wide berth in cross the street no matter where I’m looking to cross it. With or without pedestrian crossing signals. With or without traffic signals or stop signs. In other words, caveat emptor…well, that’s for “let the buyer beware” and not “let the pedestrian beware”, but you get the concept.

Back to Portland street crossings. The many times early in my residency in Portland the following happened and still happens. As I observe traffic from both directions to find my opportunity to cross, all of the sudden, the traffic stops in the direction nearest to me to allow me to safely cross. The first couple of times this happened, I must have had a quizzical look on my face to the drivers because, uh, no one stops in the middle of traffic to let a pedestrian cross ESPECIALLY in the middle of the block! Yet it happened and continues to happen. Then as I start to cautiously step onto the street, the other direction of traffic stops to let me finish crossing. I actually looked around me one time to see if there were any cameras filming for a joke or Youtube of “jokes for stupid pedestrians”. No jokes, just amazingly courteous drivers all throughout the streets of Portland.

What’s my point? I’m seeing this aspect of the Portland culture starting to change. I’m seeing the need to be much more cautious making the sort of street crossing moves I mentioned above. I see less courtesy of cars welcoming other cars to merge. I’m seeing more aggressive driving with cutting other cars off, merging into a lane RIGHT BEFORE the offramp rather than “waiting your turn” in the line of cars exiting to the offramp. Now, I’ll preface by saying that this is NOT an exhaustive analysis or scientific study, but rather random observations and associations that I’m making with this seemingly innocuous shift in the courteous Portland culture, and it might be related to a lot more California plates.

In fact, in the last two weeks alone, I’ve had cars cut me off on I-405 or the 26 east and west, as well as a car just today literally sneak in to my lane in the offramp exit from the neighboring lane, no signal and barely enough room for the car. And the license plate’s state? California. To clear up before anyone jumps to conclusions on my biases or mischaracterizations, I’m not against ANYONE moving to Portland for the same reasons that brought me here (affordability, work-life balance, love of the outdoors) or any reasons for that matter. In fact, this influx of people from around the country or the world adds a broadening from other cultures and diversity, I believe. But come on, drivers! Don’t bring your bad habits to Portland! Get with the program and watch how the people do certain things around the city. They may be quirky, but there are some pretty cool behaviors that set Portland apart.

It’s not perfect, but I’m hoping that all the ways the Portland culture can change and be disrupted slows down or even that us transplants learn a few new things that make us better than where we came from. Keep Portland Weird, and Courteous!

The Prophets of Innovation (or The 4 Steps by Real Risk-Takers)

These days there are no lack of “experienced professionals” and “entrepreneurial prophets” professing the value, ways, outcomes, means, ends, or any other particular snake oil they are peddling about innovation and its aptly associated sibling, risk-taking. They espouse their version of the truths of innovation about the little guy making a different, or even changing, the world. The philosophize how the evil overlords of corporate <insert country name> need to be overturned and disrupted by the Ubers of the world.

Mind you, there are actually quite a few writers and bloggers and podcasters of innovation, disruptive or otherwise, that I respect and that actually have experience in doing so. These truly experienced few have done more than just write/blog/podcast about it. They’ve done it, in their particular ways. More about them later. But there are others who also do the same soliloquy of innovation and how we must all “fight the great fight” to bring our ideas to the world and leave it forever changed. Yet they’ve never done it. At least not in the way that better demonstrates taking the risks on a truly passionate and sometimes maniacal crusade to bring ones idea to the world. That way being without the cocoon of millions or thousands of corporate dollars. Without the soothing safety of organizational infrastructures that, while may be slow and bureaucratic, offer a significant reduction in the risk of jumping out of the airplane with quite the uncertainty as to whether the parachute will actually deploy. Or even having entered a “startup” at a stage where they are cashflow positive, growing money in the bank, success is certainly not guaranteed but the major hump up the hill is over. Now it’s looking for a few smaller hills to overcome.

It’s not too dissimilar to the old comical adage of the priest giving advice about premarital sex. Father, if you can’t give me real world expertise and perspectives based on your own successes and failures, I’m not willing to be a guinea pig for some textbook. There are the academic (aka I read this in a book, so now I’m gonna teach it) and there are the real world (aka I did it, I probably failed once or twice, maybe even succeeded) ways of telling the story. I’ll take the real-world every time!

Look, I’m not saying that there are not good intuitions from people in the world that could possess particularly gifted views on subjects that for some reason come naturally to them. It could happen. I would rather learn (or avoid the mistakes) from the experiences of others that have been in the trenches, have taken risks, maybe have thrown caution to the wind (such as goodbye paycheck) and given their yeomen’s go at it. Whatever it is.

In my limited experience of having thrown caution to the wind, made sacrifices from financial to professional to family, and can certainly recount my successes and failures alike, these steps seem to make sense to me as well as set themselves apart from the posers of innovation prophesying and philosophizing.

  1. Goodbye paycheck. Sure many people need to pay the bills and it’s noble to try to keep that semblance of sanity if you’re raising a family. After all, good ideas and passion don’t just come from 20 somethings with only the recurring cash need for burritos, craft beer and Uber. But there is a certain mental commitment to your passion when you’re not being recompensed for it on the 15th and 30th of every month. You’re just gonna have to cut back on that $200 a month crossfit gym membership or coming up on the latest Tesla S waitlist.
  2. Living the life…NOT. When one is pursuing their passion of truly changing the world, the late afternoon yoga class and Thursday night book club tend to take a backseat. There is NO 9-to-5 in the world of truly executing on real innovation!
  3. Patience IS a virtue. Yes, you need patience as a real game-changing entrepreneur. No shit, Sherlock. Thanx, Captain Obvious. And other notable quotes of the apparent and evident. Here I refer to your family, friends, loved ones. There will be a certain degree of “damage” to be done to those relationships, unless they happen to be your business partners. In which case, good luck…that’s a topic for a future rant. No, you’re going to see them, have dinners with them, travel with them, go to the brewfest with them a LOT less. They may resent you. Unless they are your spouse (and that’s not guaranteed, take my word for it) they may even sever their relationship with you.
  4. Learn the word NO. I don’t mean learn to say it. This word is unknown to the real innovators. “Can’t” is another one. What I mean is learn to hear it a lot, and at the same time become very proficient and continue the trudge up the hill while on the sidelines everyone is saying you can’t do it, or no you’re not going to make it. Sure those of us in corporate life hear it from time to time. Actually we hear maybe or nothing at all most of the time. But even so, this is not as emotionally taxing to us corporate animals because we simply find the next project to get our names attached to that has been funded.

I’m sure there are others, but in my experience, these are the top 4 differentiators between the real risk takers looking to make the world revolve a slightly different speed and those that have read about those people, and somehow now think they are authorities on the matter. There’s no real punchline here. I’d love to hear about your own opinions, perspectives, flames and generally whatever you have to say on the matter. There’s no magic mathematical algorithm. There’s no magic bullet. And there’s no magic business book on Amazon Kindle. Just sheer will, perseverance and desire. With that said, get your ass out there, take the risk even with no guarantee of reward (at least not monetary) and savor the journey! For every single startup experience I’ve had (some not so successful), the journey and the people are always what engrain themselves in my memory.1

5 Steps for Battling Roller-Besity

Roller-besity is newly developed slang for “roller bag obesity”. Let me explain. Imagine you’re at the airport (like I was a little bit ago…now I’m in the air) and you’re pulling your roller bag along with hundreds or thousands of your best friends at good ole PDX airport (or wherever you may call home). Those roller bags are typically being dragged by the owner with one arm, and most usually alongside them. Let’s say you are approximately 2.5 feet across in terms of the width of your body, including your arms. Well guess what? The roller bag will add about another foot and a half if you’re dragging it alongside you. But here’s the kicker. It seems that EVERYONE who’s pulling one doesn’t realize that! It’s as if their roller bag is of an exotic new celestial material that is transparent to the rest of the molecular world the rest of us live in. They can turn corners with them and the roller bag goes right through walls, like some bizarre new David Copperfield magic trick. Or better yet, the molecular structure of their roller bag is such that it will go right through people and their legs and feet, like the apparitions in the Ghost Whisperer trailer (God, I hate that show!).

I was waiting at PDX Airport gate C7 (it started C3, but I digress) as the plane I was to board to Chicago had its prior passengers deplaning. So there is a stream of passengers flowing out the gate ramp, through the gate forest of seats and out into the brave new world of PDX Airport before descending upon the City of Portland (or maybe their connecting, but I digress again…my head does that). Mind you space between the groups of chairs at gate C7 is wide enough for not only people in wheelchairs, but probably Rosie O’Donnell, Tin Man and Scare Crow skipping and singing “We’re Off To Meet The Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz”! But no. What happens instead?

  • They turn and their roller bags flip around after knocking down someone else’s roller bag. Must have missed that “Careful Wide Load” sign on their splash guards.
  • They run over my toes (I’m wearing flip flops…I like being comfortable on the plane) and pretty much everyone else’s toes, shoes, purses, laptop bags, strollers, children IN strollers, children NOT in strollers, and that Starbucks grande latte you left sitting on the floor…amateur!
  • Oh and here’s where it gets interesting. They’ll get this look on their face of, “hey, WTF is going on here that people keep bumping up against my roller bag”. I’m sorry Mr. I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit-Who-I-Run-Over-With-My-Swiss-Army-Roller, I failed to notice your Higgs Boson roller bag recently discovered at CERN and I also failed to modulate the resonant frequency of my flip flops to enable transparent pass-through of your fucking roller bag!!!

Come on people! It’s just not that hard to not be “that” guy or “that” girl with the poor roller bag etiquette. Here are a few tips.

  1. Acknowledge that you’re a fat roller-slob, and give yourself the wide load clearance you’ll need exiting the restroom without barreling down that dude who had too many Corona’s on his flight cause his mom gave him a bunch of Delta food coupons.
  2. If you’re bringing the roller bag onboard (hah, who isn’t!), it’s not hard to temporarily dislocate your shoulder so that you can pull the roller bag directly behind like Dale Earnhart (bless his soul) drafting behind…well, some other racing dude. Don’t worry, once you try to lift your roller bag to put it into the overhead compartment (IF you find space), your shoulder will pop back in…sorta.
  3. Alternate to shoulder dislocation: The beauty of the rotator cuff of the shoulder is that you can actually and comfortably twist your arm (this requires modification of hand grip on roller bag handle) and perform the same drafting move like Dale. Careful, the dislocation may occur when you try to lift the roller bag to overhead compartment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  4. If you’re training your offspring to carry so itty bitty cutesy Sponge Bob roller bags, teach them some courtesy and manners! Just have them refer to tips 1 thru 3.
  5. Finally, just check the damn thing at the gate. IT’S FREE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! Then when you pick it up at baggage claim, you’ll be in the authorized Roller Bag Collision Area as you head out to get your cab/text your Uncle Pete you’re at door 7 (of the 5 door 7’s in the airport)/take the shuttle to Hertz (FUCK, my rental is at Enterprise).

Next installment of my Bitching About Stupid People series, FatBackPack Assholes…aka, OH, I forgot I was wearing a backpack, so didn’t mean to give you a black eye in seat 20D while I swing around to see how many people are behind me waiting to get into their seats.

Thank You…that is all.

Zombies, Mayans and “world-enders”

We are in the midst of the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st, 2012. We have also been inundated (almost literally) with zombies and the impending apocalypse precipitated by them. What does it all mean? Coincidence? Colorful fancy and daydreaming by marketers and merchandisers to cash in on the public and media frenzy? Probably a bit of all of the above and more. I mean, I am waiting feverishly for the third season of Walking Dead to arrive on Netflix 🙂

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But I’m curious as to seemingly all of society’s infatuation with this “end of the world” or exaggerated apocalyptic scenarios.
  1. Are we bored and want something to talk about during our drab lives day after day?
  2. Maybe it’s the ADD (adult and adolescent…look a dog!) kicking into high gear and just another topic to throw into the mix.
  3. Are we so enthralled with pop culture and mainstream media garbage on TV and the internet that these just happen to be mass cultures’ equivalent of Y2K.
  4. Or is it all of the above with some religious fanaticism thrown in for good measure?

I vote for 4! But I’m still curious as to whether there is a good scientific reason or theory that might explain this. I happened to have read a great article in Big Think (love the periodic newsletter I get with the Big Thinks of that day) titled, Why We’re Obsessed with the Apocalypse. Here’s quite the interesting statistic that they referenced from Reuters from earlier this year.

“This year, a Reuters poll found that one in four Americans believe the world will end within their lifetime. Globally, the figure is one in seven people.”

In case you didn’t catch that…ONE IN SEVEN PEOPLE ON THE PLANET! So approximately 15% of us believe that the world will come to an end during our lifetimes. Note that the average human’s life expectancy is 67.2 years (on a world scale) and 78.3 years (in the United States…thank God for Obamacare). So apart from all the pop cultural or religious fanaticism which are perfect Petri dishes for gravitating to the apocalypse, it’s no wonder that some of us are averaging 3-4 zombie T-shirts in our dressers these days. However how either naive or self-aggrandizing are we that we think the likes of Planet Earth would come to an end during a 78-ish year period, maximum! The Big Think article goes on to say…

“Earth having existed for billions of years, probably existing for millions if not billions more, and our own life in comparison—however long and fruitful—being an almost infinitesimally insignificant instant in the middle of it all. So fleeting and so far from either end of the story that many of us behave like individual black holes, mentally warping time to write ourselves into the grand finale.”

We’ll all have some fun with these doomsday thoughts, predictions, and business models. How interesting of the human condition to put ourselves on the same level of a multi-billion year old geological entity such as our planet. I actually think it’s a good thing whereby we don’t suffer from believing ourselves so insignificant in this grand universe by believing our mother Earth’s end in a few decades…just don’t hold your breath or sell all of your baseball card collection quite yet.

Family Clears It All Up

I’ve spent many a holiday, weekend, vacation or just random time with family members over the years. Early on on my life when I was too young, naive and stupid to really see them for what they are, I criticized and even distanced myself from some of them because of some idiosyncrasy or fault that I didn’t want to deal with.

Well, who doesn’t have faults? I invite you to show yourself but I expect that you’ll be dressed in Jesus Christ garb…and even then HE had his faults! I know I certainly have my faults.

– I’m a little compulsive
– I’m a perfectionist at times
– Have been known to be judgmental and overly critical
– and I’m sure there are other lists that can be compiled

Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I’ve certainly learned of the value of family and why we’re there for each other. I truly now derive happiness from seeing them happy in turn! Whatever it is that makes them happy warm my heart. My sister Lisa has a beautiful daughter, Sienna, and I see how truly happy and complete she is when I see the sparkle in her eye when seeing her watching Sienna.

It’s a deep happiness that goes to her soul and simply reflected through her eyes, smile, and contentment on her face. And THAT makes me happy and desire more of it for Lisa!

We all have to remind ourselves regularly of these little things. But they are oh-so what life’s all about.

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New Look for a New Life

You may have noticed a few changes to the site. This is to reflect my new approach to what articles I’ll write reflective of my new life. It has more to do about the people, places and things I observe that are interesting, shocking, intriguing or worthy of further observation than about business and career oriented topics. In fact, while my career remains important, it is NOT the most important aspect of my life any longer. I’ll write original articles or my re-blog those of others that are worthy of re-blogging and particularly interesting.

What this site not:

  1. A diary.
  2. A product review site…I may write about really cool gadgets or technologies from time to time, just ’cause.
  3. A pity party…there are no victims!

I hope to more actively engage and interact with those of you who come across my rantings and opinions. I would love to hear your own opinions and hopefully you won’t always necessarily agree with my own, but don’t feel shy about agreeing with me 🙂 Since I’m a very visual person, I intend on using more pictures and videos to convey my stories or observations. Probably one reason why I’ve taken a particular interest in Pinterest lately. Though a friend in my running group recently expressed his opinion that Pinterest is not of the most manly persuasion. He can give his opinion but when there are hot women and beer pins and boards on Pinterest, I think the manly checkmark has been attained!

I’ve recently started bringing my social media habits and working out together. I may write my views on some recent experiences with a new iPhone app and the community of people in that network. Until then…

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God I hope she’s right!

A Nice Ring to It

Sure, there have been all kinds of natural disasters, not to mention strange weather patterns in general. (One mild winter in North Dakota last season was awesome, yet terrifying, because it’s so uncharacteristic. This one’s rounding out to be pretty similar.) And even though I might have been a little nervous about it myself when I first heard of the whole “2012” thing a few years ago, I’m now convinced that there’s no way we’ve only got 19 days left. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Mayans made calendars, not predictions.

Why are we banking predictions of the future on a civilization that couldn’t predict its own demise? Yes, it’s still a mystery and archeologists aren’t sure what necessarily caused it, but it certainly happened quickly. You’d think a big disaster might have been something they could foretell. That is, if they ever claimed to be

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