Category: Deep Thoughts



 

"Looks like a yellow biscuit of a buttery cue ball moon rollin' maverick across an obsidian sky"

I’m writing this from the top bunk in the sleeping car of the Kiev-Kryvyi Rih (pronounced Kree-voy Rog, dont ask me how they ended up with that spelling) train, all my current possessions once again stuffed in a select few suitcases, Babulya (Lidas grandmother) and Lida sleeping below, rumbling through the Ukrainian nightscape while being lulled to sleep myself by the musty smell of a coal powered engine and an inconsistent yet comforting undulation of soviet era tracks. Many things have transpired over the last month, not all that I’m at liberty to divulge here, for reasons that were not fully explained to me but that I understand none-the-less.

Before my Indonesian experience I railed against social networking and blogs. It seems to have a way of sucking the organic element, and thus the excitement, from of our lives. While technology is the catalyst for my life, I also realize that its not the purpose. I had always drawn a line with this unfiltered access to my personal life with no reciprocation required. Reciprocation is, in my opinion, the definition of a healthy relationship.

I remember my friend blogging during the birth of one of his children. It was a real commitment by both mother and father (perhaps more the mother to tolerate husband with phone in hand while experiencing excruciating pain). It allowed everyone that desired to have a connection to that family a chance to share in a very pivotal moment. However not all of lives important moments can be so neatly translated into the cloud.

In 2008 after ending a dead end relationship, I started reconnecting with old friends that had subsequently been pushed out (Rachael, both Buffalo Jessicas, Iwan to name a few). On one such trip I visited my remaining Jessica in Buffalo along with her 8 year old daughter Sarah and husband Jeff. It was my second such trip and I enjoyed the comfort of a more tangible adult life that many of my still single or undetermined friends hadn’t the ability nor desire to create. Id always known I would some day have a family but that still didnt seem realistic to me, this gave me the opportunity to see how it might function when two people truly committed. It was also nice because there was no one in Buffalo that still remembered me, as it had been over 10 years since my last visit. While hanging out in a bar downtown off Elmwood with Jessica and some of her friends, a voice came from behind “Maaaaatt Nyyyye?!”. I turned to face a man that looked nothing like anyone I knew and yet he was convinced he knew me simply by the sound of my voice. Even after telling me specific instances of things we did together in high school I still couldn’t come up with a name. After one or two incorrect guesses, not 100% sure I had the right person, I ventured a guess “Jim Hickey??”.

Buffalo Reunion

Hidden behind hipster glasses and a well groomed Johnny-Depp-five-o’clock-shadow was my best friend from Junior and Senior year. The only person I’d ever met that was possibly as hyper as me. Somehow we had lost touch in the late 90s and never reconnected. Later I found out he is a total Facebook whore with over 800 friends. Had I been on Facebook we surely would have connected, shared some unenthusiastic stories and perhaps met for a drink some where down the road. Gone would have been a night of sheer elation at the coincidental meeting, of telling story after story of the past ten years and the resurrection of a small portion of my youth, however fleeting it was.

I say all this simply to illustrate the point that while I enjoy writing my blog entries and talking over IM with my friends the world across, its no substitute for the humility of a face-to-face interaction and the reaffirmation of kinship in a flesh and blood exchange. Ill continue these entries, even though the title of the blog is no longer relevant (perhaps I should change it to помочь я глупый [pomochʹ ya glupyĭ], doesnt quite roll off the touch does it), but please don’t confuse my ramblings here for a clear understanding of me or as a replacement for sitting in a bar in some shady eastern bloc country or on a snow-white beach in the south pacific talking about life, the future or my family.

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My very own pigmy tribe


So I was doing my budgeting today for the next 6 months.  Ive expended the money I had saved for living work free about 2 months early and had to decide if its worth the investment (and risk) to stay.  I decided it was and Ive now delved into my emergency stash, which leaves me very anxious.  Its basically the money I had to keep me going if I had to go back to the states without a job (read: Ill be sleeping on your couch if things dont work out). So according to my budget I needed $8000 more to get by over the next 6 months.  That includes visas, a new apartment (you have to pay all 6 months in advance),  internet, etc.

Ive been working with several companies over the past 3 months and giving a lot of free advice, conference calls and in some cases, free days weeks of work, under the premise that good faith leads to contracts.  After 3 months however I was starting to think I was just a sucker. Today I signed a deal for 3 months of work at a nice hourly rate. Ive been closing consulting contracts for the past 5 years but its amazing how much more exciting it is when you have no steady income.

My budget is now greatly expanded and in my typical fashion I had to find somewhere for all this money to go (savings does what?). Im going to buy a pigmy tribe. 

Yup, my very own pigmy tribe. The thought of this has consumed my day but I think I got it all figured out:

  1. I need a decent sized one but not so many that they cant fit in my apartment.  I mean they are pigmy but still, one must be reasonable right? I figure if they sleep head to toe I can fit 3 rows of 5 pigmy per row in the guest room, round it up to an even 20.  They can rotate two per night to stand guard outside my apartment door (just to wierd-out the neighbors).
  2. Ill just have them stand around my apartment, use one for a foot rest, one for a cup holder and the two most muscular can just stand at my side where ever I go looking pseudo-intimidating (how scary can you be at 3 feet?).
  3. Ill give them all cute nicknames like “Lippie” for the guy with a lip plate or “Saggy Tits” for the oldest woman. 
  4. Ill forbid any of them to learn English so I can have very heated arguments with them and have no idea what we are talking about.
  5. Ill get a cardboard box (probably from a pigmy mini-fridge) and call it the Timeout-Box.  Whenever they break the rules (which will be posted on the Timeout-Box in English) they will have to spend 30 minutes there. Just to keep them on their toes Ill send one of them there for no reason at all every once in a while.
  6. Also to keep them on their toes Ill put the food on the top shelf in the kitchen (get it, cause theyre pigmy…….short…..on thier toes….gaaaah do I have to explain all my jokes to you guys?).
  7. At night we can have a small bonfire (a pigmy bonfire)  in the living room and tell pigmy short stories, which undoubtedly I wont understand but Ill laugh and cry with them anyway because they will be amazing story tellers.
  8. Ill send them to the grocery store with no money, just spears and face paint. They can stalk the Butter Ball turkeys and hide in the lettuce rack throwing spears at the live fish.
  9. Finally, every night I will put them to sleep by playing The Greatest Adventure to them (click on the damn link!!! Theyre here for a good reason).

This is another installment of Matt-Tells-You-Something-Common-But-Makes-It-Seem-Profound series.  Its a working title. 

Todays topic, the Nap. 

I think the importance of the nap is not understated or underutilized, but certainly its misused and poorly executed.  The common person views the nap as a leisurely activity. Something to do when bored or on the weekends or for after work.  If you have the ability and privacy you can incorporate it into every day life. 

I’ve mastered the power nap and its effectiveness over the past 3 years. I find one after breakfast or lunch and perhaps one in the late afternoon helps me to get 12-16 hours of productivity out of a day as well as make fewer mistakes in my work. Unfortunately work places havent embarrassed this but when I have my company with an office the first investment will be into a EnergyPod and institute mandatory naps. 

Napping in the lap(ping?) of Luxury

 

So here are my tips for a successful power nap routine: 

  1. Pick some place comfortable but not too comfortable. A couch or a lazyboy would be ideal.  If you’re going to use the bed by no means get under the blankets!
  2. Leave your cloths on, even your shoes if you’re not the type that takes them off at the door.  The more comfortable you are the more likely you are to over sleep.
  3. Waking yourself up is the hardest, if you aren’t disciplined enough to pull yourself out of Stage 1 or Stage 2 NREM sleep naturally then set your phone alarm and put it on your chest or stomach. 15 minutes is enough, 45 at the very most.  Anymore and you’ll be bumping up against REM sleep. That will mess up your entire day as well as that nights sleep which means the following day will be shot too.
  4. At the first twinge of waking up, don’t hesitate, don’t look to see what time it is, just snap right up.  The longer you linger the harder its gunna be to wake up and more likely you’re going to go through a full cycle (90-120 minutes).

 Using these easy to follow instructions you too could be like me, living in a third world country with no job, no possessions and living like a slack-ass teenager.


For the first time since the end of January I put on my business cloths and went into an office. Lida and I had diner with the Indian guy we made friends with a while back at his place.  He invited us to come down to his office so Lida could meet the team, he said he might be able to get her a job there.

When we got there he asked me to give an impromptu talk with his team about team dynamics and efficiency.  Some how he got the impression that this was my specialty or he was just testing my ability to think on the fly. Either way it was definitely nice to get back into the office and do something other than brainstorm or come up with marketing material.

I’m becoming more skeptical that this business is going fly. The prospect of that doesn’t bother me so much per-say. I’ve grown accustomed to failure by now. After so many you learn to parlay your failures into credentials on your resume. It’s the prospect of going back to an office job and not being able to sleep in until 1pm.

I just need to make about $2000 a month to live very comfortably here. Its time to defy define mediocrity.

Discover confusion


So Iwan showed me this great site for stock photos and was searching for images for my presentation template (im sure everyone else has known about this since the late 90s, but like I said Im late to every trend). 

< sarcasm>Using the amazingly original and creative motto of Westwind Indonesia, Discover. Define. Deliver. </sarcasm>,  I was searching for images to use and came across this gem for “Discover”.  I was particularly confused by the keywords associated to it:

  • adventure
  • destination
  • fun
  • vacation

Some keywords Id like to associate to it:

  • trapped
  • neglect 
  • push
  • WTF

For instance, Slavic people don’t like to smile in photos:

Belarus Winter Olympians – Maybe 4 but 3 of those aren’t so much a smile as it is a stretching of the mouth and at least 3 of the guys look like they killed the photographer right afterwards

UkrainianWinter Olympians – 5 and that’s being generous (Lada looks like she twitched before her picture)

Kazakhstan Winter Olympians – Wow, that’s a grand total of 0

Georgian Winter Olympians – I’ll give it 1 cause Nina really gave it the old Georgian try.

But I feel like the only reason Stefan is any good at Alpine Skiing is because he was one of the guys chasing James Bond down the mountain with a rifle at the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me

Interlude:

James Bond movies always baffled me. This scene in particular:

  1. Why is the worlds greatest agent wearing a yellow ski suit with orange boots? Isnt that counter productive for an undercover spy?
  2. Why do the Russian agents speak with an English accent, did they go to Oxford?
  3. Whats up with the one moron with a pistol? When he was preparing for this ill-conceived ambush and he had his choice of the KGB arsenal did he think that a snub-nosed pistol would be the most effective?  I mean really, youre skiing 3 meters behind him. Shotgun would be much more productive
  4. The rifles sure do make a lot of noise for having a silencer on them

Ok and now for the Slavics cheery counterparts.  Im gunna skip showing the Americans because its obvious we are always happy.  I mean we invented drive-through/fast food restaurant, the nuclear bomb and modernized porn.  Whats there not to be happy about?  So let’s go with some less obviously happy nations, like…..

Norwiegen Winter Olympians – Ive been there, theres no reason for them to be happy unless you like your food over-salted and pickled fish.

Italian Winter Olympians – Ive always said that Italy would be great if there werent any Italians but this group looks a lot more cheery than the “WOPs” I dealt with.

Canadian Winter Olympians – Canadas happiness can be gauged by their success in hockey.  While two Olympic gold medals in the past decade is all fine and good, Lord Stanley’s cup has been absent for the past 2 decades (0k 17 years to be exact), along with the loss of an NHL team in Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton. Theres really no reason for them to be happy.