Small Talk

So… so, how’s it going there? Pretty good? That’s fantastic, some great fall weather we’re having here, huh? Kinda’ wet on the wrong days, right?

Sorry ‘bout that. Trying out my small talk.

Anyway, it’s autumn and the weather is fine enough with today being the first really cool day. I started a new permanent job a few months ago after wrapping up a contract that was the equivalent of a tooth extraction without Novocain. Fortunately it’s over and the hurdles of my new job don’t come close. It’s nice to take a break from contracting and the anxiety of sporadic employment in these here troubled times. I guess I can’t make fun of permies for a while since I’m now one too…

Generally I have a lot to be thankful for. By choice I’m surrounded by some mighty fine people and I haven’t had any random bad stuff come at me lately. Which doesn’t mean it won’t or that I won’t deal with it when it arrives. Just enjoying the lull. I’m working on a couple of creative projects in a slow burn sort of way, one of which involves assembling a team and relying on other folks to deliver but we’ll see how that goes. Most days I can take my pleasure from the process as much as the end result and this should be a really interesting ride. If it amounts to anything, you’ll know all about it. For now, I need to practice clearly elucidating an idea (elevator pitch) and figuring out what other people’s motivators are. It’s gotta’ be a win-win all around if I’m going to wring the best out of everyone involved. Future everyone’s anyway.

The second project is photographic and requires research and some amount of new tool learning. Could be quite neat.

I guess I could say something about Occupy Wall Street since I work so close by but what’s left to be said? Who doesn’t feel helpless and unheard in these tough times… although I am waiting to see what happens with the other protest groups that are now courting them for side protests like the Verizon workers. That could cause them more credibility damage than not having a message and being arrested for mass ignorance. It would look a bit mercenary. But that trivial matter of image pales compared to the fact that more people have been arrested for these protests in the first week than have ever been arrested for this financial disaster in the last 4 years. Hell, I’m sure a good case could probably be made that it’s treason for creating and allowing a collapse that jeopardized the countries economy… Ok, I’m done. Feeling helpless sucks and the bad guys often get away. That’s life.

One of my Flickr contacts shot some really nice portraits of OWS folks here.

Random – here’s a photo I took on PCH-1 on my inaugural trip to California with my awesome gf back in April. Man, what a great trip that was! 🙂

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Lucky Duck

Luck is when you’ve done everything right and you actually receive what you’ve been working towards. Luck is when you’ve done everything right and you don’t get what you’ve been working towards. Luck is when something you haven’t sought winds up in your lap. Luck is when you sit still and nothing happens. It’s not getting what you want because you think you’re deserving of it. That’s just ego and luck.

A race car driver can be the best guy on the track and have the best car but he’s only likely to win if his luck holds out. That means he doesn’t get tangled up with guys he’s lapping and winds up being the third car in a two car accident. That’s luck, in this case bad luck. That means his clutch or any of the 10,000 other components that make up his car, 10,000 man-made therefore imperfect parts, don’t pick that day to fail. Again, that would be bad luck but not divine intervention. Your kid, wife, husband, drowns and the paramedics spend a 1/2 hour to resuscitate them and they sputter back to life. Thank the paramedics profusely and be glad you got the right kind of luck.

Face it, some stuff you just can’t predict or control – control is a deceptive illusion. What you have is the randomness of the universe to tangle with but we try to find patterns in the noise. We do that because we’re hunters and gatherers by birth. We are successful as a species because we can read signs and trails and infer at the end is either dinner or danger. If we couldn’t we wouldn’t have survived this long without the alternative of having our food walk up and sit on our plates… we’re always practicing pattern recognition. And frequently seeing things that aren’t there. The brain is a funny thing.

There is no pattern in a random universe, just luck.

Credit yourself and others for their hard work and keep moving down the trail that doesn’t exist.

Challenge: What Can I Write In 15 minutes…

Pretty good day today in the city. Day 300 for me or thereabouts since moving in with the gf. Mostly moving in. Still closing out my apartment back in the Garden State… which I know I will miss terribly although I never really made it much of a home due to bouts of unemployment interleaved with bouts of being out in the city… err, trying to socialize. I’ll miss the convenient, and free, outdoors. In the city it’s much more limited and typically comes with a price tag.

It was a pretty good day in the sense that it was hot and dry, no clammy humidity turning my shirt into something with the weight of a bullet proof jacket… and the things that bug me about it didn’t bug me as much. Yeah I had to walk through a cloud of pungent urine vapor in the same stretch of blocks on Henry Street, but at least today I didn’t see the guy responsible for it (Pee-Pee Man). Other days I’ve had to see him in action. Who pees on a mailbox in broad daylight? Further on my trip through Chinatown I noticed the absence of the usual smoking china boys with their angry anime hair styles. I swear, some days it’s like your endlessly trailing smoker after smoker. But not today. Even the fish stalls weren’t as odiferous as usual (I’m very smell oriented so this particularly kills me). But today was not so bad. Oh, and today I ended a job that I was glad that I had but it was time to move on.

Below is a pretty picture I took while on vacation recently.

Aim For Excellence And I Guarantee I’ll Come Back

I have a friend, an office friend who’s really into mojitos. Like super duper into them – the sun rises and sets on this damn drink for her. I get that. I have my own faves this just isn’t one of them. I’d drink it all the same. Now, with that in mind we formed a mojito drinking club. Officially we are the Mojito Summer Club. The goal being to go out once a week in search of the bar making a perfect mo. We got a small pile of co-workers together for our initial outing and we started with the few places near the office…

I don’t have a problem with an average drink but I do have a problem with one that flat sucks, independent of price. But I do get more pissed off when it’s pricey. In the one case we were at an actual Cuban place and the mojito was… ok… just ok. Maybe toothpasty and too seltzery. Indifferent. At a Cuban place that even had a cigar bar on its top floor. Really, isn’t this a Cuban drink? Shouldn’t it have been outstanding? I’m not going back there for any reason if they can’t make a staple like that great. The next location was called something or the other Grande and they didn’t have mint I think so we ended up drinking other stuff. Someone in our group recommended we do shots of Patron tequila coffee liqueur so I tried it. To each his own but it was coffee flavored cough syrup so if you like drinking cough syrup somebody’s got a product you can overpay for. A bit too medicinal for me though. I might’ve liked it more if I also had a bad cough AND wanted some booze. At one point I gave the bartender a recipe for a cocktail I make at home (truth be told, my gf can crank this out in high volume faster than I can write this post). Then I watched her proceed to try to make it. Now, this ain’t a rocket science kinda drink, there’s no egg white in it or other foaming ingredients, it’s just three kinds of liquor and you top it with beer. There, see, I even wrote out their measures figuring she would use a shot glass or some other convenient form of bar measure because, why give her room to mess up making a requested drink that she can get a decent tip for? Anyway, she winged the measures by eye and it came out like crap. And it was more like she was humoring me than actually trying to do something right. Or maybe she had no talent for it and she wanted to go back to opening beer bottles and using branded mixers. Surprise. In the multi-billion dollar earning Jersey City Financial District. I guess it’s just a good place to get a beer and move on.

Unfortunately these two bars cater to different crowds so don’t compete directly.

People and businesses have some similarities. Without competition both can get pretty slack in the quality department. The real tough part is figuring out how to drive yourself in the absence of pressure. As a business that may not make sense from a day to day cost perspective but the last thing you want to have happen is have another place open up nearby that offers exactly what you do but it’s better. Or the same but cheaper. I think when you’re excellent at doing something you only have to worry a bit about the value proposition but if your product is also weak…

In the case above I was asking waaaay too much – luckily, I frequent and get served by some really excellent mixologist type bartenders (Manhattan, Brooklyn, San Francisco) and it really sets an expectation that can’t be met when I drink anywhere else. At any cost point. They are individuals operating at a high level of quality and they are part of the tone that the establishment is putting forward. I don’t always find them affordable but I’m always looking to get back there as quickly as I can. That’s some excellence right there.