Archive for the 'Citizens of the World' Category


Four-Way Stop Signs

There is no better place to observe the instantaneous social understanding between two people than a deduction of the behavior exhibited at a four-way stop sign.  In just less than half-a-second each respective observer evaluates, computes, decides, trusts and shows gratitude.

Evaluation in the speed that the other car is traveling – “are they stopping? Will she stop? Nice car, but not as nice as mine.  She’s cute, but only a 7 from where I’m sitting.  The demeanor of her face states an ease that should be expected on a sunny sunday morning such as this – nowhere to go in a hurry, just driving from A to B in her cute little three-year-old white Acura.”

“She’ll stop, you can go,” my sub-conscience tells my right foot as the computation makes way to decision from the evaluation of her speed and the demeanor of her face and my foot listens pivoting downward on the gas and my truck and I accelerate forward as she stationarily passes me on the right, even amidst her stopping at her sign as self-predicted a quarter-second prior.

I look.  She looks. We lock eyes and mine rotate upwards ever-so-slightly saying, “Preciate-cha.”  And I continue on to the B for which I am destined and so does she.

And she, certainly, in that same blink of time went through the same process of evaluation, computation, decision, trust and gratitude – ‘red octagonal sign with the letters S-T-O-P indicates the necessity to remove right foot from right peddle, transfer horizontally to the left to the adjacent peddle to which the right foot should then rotate downward at a pressure appropriate to decrease the velocity of my car so as to fit like a glove just before the wide painted white line that is perpendicularly oriented adjacent to the aforementioned sign.  As there is a good looking guy in a red truck beginning to accelerate, I should come to a complete stop and look at him prior to re-accelerating forward.’

This morning, in this brief encounter, the 7 in the white acura and I shared an instantaneous mutual understanding of how to each exist in the moments associated with stopping and going at a four-way stop sign.  The experience is one of many that are typical and so crucial to each of our respective existence and, in this case, the well-being of our respective vehicles.  These are the momentary processes that makeup the DNA of the rest of our respective days, to our whole lives up until now and also the lives of those whom we each know and, to an exponentially decreasing degree, the lives of those whom we do not know but whom know the ones that we do know.

Far beyond the complexity of Google or of cellular telephones or the putting of a man on the moon is the ability of the human mind to quickly process and react to such seemingly insignificant daily social connections, which in every way map the history of Man in respect to the Micro and also the Macro.

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The Should-Be

Often I hear people say things like: “They shouldn’t be treating people that way”; “Guys should know to put the toilet seat down after you’re finished peeing”; “Popey’s should’ve had plenty of chicken stocked up” (funny youtube video); “That’s just not the way things are supposed to be.”

Well how should they be? And, more importantly, according to whom? The should-be is a widely used, specifically subjective term. The way things ‘should be’ to me – a southern, middle-class, mildly conservative male who likes Pork Chops and Succotash with his stove-top, hot sauce and beer – would be drastically different than a Petit English woman named Ms. Gertrude Prudey, whom prefers non-fat Jam on her crumpet, which she enjoys daily with a small glass of pinky-finger-raised hot tea. How different is the should-be for a 17 year old Somali pirate on the verge of starvation and beyond the outer limits of hope. How should things be if you were the mother of an Arab terrorist that is under a waterboard, on a table, in the middle of a windowless torture-for-vital-info room? But we will get to that shortly; for now, on the lighter side, let’s consider the Toilet Seat example.

I have never been able to understand, for the life of me, why women make such a big deal about us putting the toilet seat down once we are finished with our “number one” sequence. It is as if all women, once they reach the threshold of the bathroom, instantly become blinded as they approach that fickle little porcelin hole in the floor.  Apparently, they don’t have the where-with-all to even see whether the seat is up before they sit down. Or, providing the benifit of the doubt, maybe, yall (women) approach the toilet as if you were a defensive back – backpedaling, eyes strait ahead, hip to back at a perfect nnety degree angle, until your butt just happens to reach the toilet. And once you sit down, unbeknownst of the present position of the toilet seat, you have a 50-50 chance of falling in. Do woman actually do this? Has a woman actually sat down into a bowl full of toilet water? It’s hard for me to believe. Maybe. But, I don’t think so.

I think that the reason why they make such a big deal about it is because of a social disconnect that exists between men and woman. They (woman) take our (men) leaving the toilet seat up as an inconsiderate and dis-respectful thing to do. While some of the threshold-blinded-defensive-back women may actually end up with wet-ass-syndrome, most of the commotion as it relates to upright toilet seats can be attributed to a misunderstanding of cross cultural perspectives.  It is this social disconnect that I am concerned with as it relates to the should-be.

In college, while at Georgia Southern, a speaker in an introductory business class said, “We see the world through cultural lenses” – Changai Mwetti.  I feel like he meant that all people see all aspects of their life according to the culmination of experiences that have shaped their current view of the world. Furthermore; by nature, we are subjective beings and we judge others’ actions according to what we know as REAL – what ‘I would do’ and what ‘should be.’

Back to the Toilet Seat Example, the social or cultural disconnect between what should be from the perspective of the Man and the Woman is rooted in incentives that have been reinforced or challenged via experience throughout the course of the given person’s life. Me, as a man, thinking logically and in my own best interest, think to myself upon shaking it, zipping it, and buttoning it: “it sure is a good thing that I put the toilet seat up because otherwise I would have gotten a little bit of over spray on the seat and no-one wants to sit in that. Not that I’m too lazy to put it back down, but I’ll just leave it up so that it can dry before the next person comes in here.” As I walk out I pass a beautiful nice-butted brown-haired woman. She, being a sort of female anomaly that is neither blinded at the threshold nor feels the need to back peddle toward the toilet, sees the upward oriented seat and thinks to herself: “Even though that guy was ruggedly good looking, he has terrible manners. Why wouldn’t he just put the seat back down when he is finished? How freaking hard is that?”

Each player in this example has a completely different idea of what should-be; of what is GOOD. Notice that we have created our conception of the right way things should be done according to incentives that meet our best interest. Being that either up or down toilet seats for men and women respectively suit his or her best interest, consider the idea that such a conception is constantly reinforced on average, about 4 – 5 times per day.

Another example, would you steel if it were the only way you could eat? Would you steel if it were the only way your family could eat? Somalians, as do the inhabitants of many communities all over the world, live in a hopeless poverty that I cannot even fathom. In a society where genocide is commonplace, where can a young man be expected to find his place; where can he find a common ground with life; can he see a light at the end of his dreary, dark tunnel? The answer for many men and women all over the world is that they there is no way to make an honest life via hard work and education.

So they steel. At first, at six, a loaf of bread. Later, at twelve years old, a pick-pocketed wallet. As a man, at seventeen, much larger opportunities arise. All his life, the only way he has known is to steal. This is his should-be. To him, a man who isn’t expected to live past nineteen, hijacking cargo ships is a ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ opportunity to really live. It doesn’t matter to him that US Marines can blow his head clean off from 450 yards away. Economically speaking, he is risking a two year loss versus a fifty plus year gain. To him, pirating is the only way. To him, this is a GOOD should-be..

Now, a personal question: how is your should-be? How is your should-be when it comes to using torture techniques such as waterboarding in order to obtain vital information? Think about the person you love the most. Picture their smiling face. Think back on the last time you saw them and what they were doing and what you were doing with them. Now, imagine that he or she has been kidnapped and is being held in a very unpleasant place like the girl in “Taken” . You know that if you don’t find him or her soon, they will be killed or worse. Finally, imagine that a man sits in front of you tied, hands behind his back, and he knows exactly where to find your missing loved one. What should-be done to find out what you need to know?

It’s a matter of perspective.  I can look at the front of building with it’s grey marble facade and tall glass doors from corner to corner and all the way up, but that’s not the whole building.  There are three other sides to that building and a floor plan and an interior and four elevators that reach fifty-nine stories, each with offices and closets and restrooms and nooks and crannies that I could not even imagine from the spot on the sidewalk that I stand looking at it’s front door and corner to corner and up squinting from the glare of the sun that shines from the clouds.

What should-be is,

so then why not just

focus on the IS, respecting

each other’s perspectives

and learning and growing together.

Do More Now.


Weather-Talk and the Conversation Onion

Conversation is like an great big Vidalia Onion with inedible outer layers and peeled-back inner ones that become more poignant and sweet the deeper you peel all the way into that center little oval that is often much too dense to consume and is, instead, tossed out with the peeled-off skin and replaced with honey and butter and the best way to cook a true Vidalia is to wrap it in tin foil and put it in the microwave and the honey-butter boils together and saturates the edible parts of the onion and you can then take it out and its so dank you can cut it with a fork like a well-prepared prime rib and then eat the petals one by one, slowly inserting into the mouth and closing also with the eyes as if a smooth-faced actress of a Parfait commercial.

As if looking on oneself from just beyond, as if in a dream, looking down at the back of the head from five feet and fourty-five degrees up and through the back of the head, a conversation, whether with an old friend at an impromptu reunion or a stranger on the sidewalk or in a Southwest airplane seat, has definite layers that are defined according to  commonalities that may exist between the converse-e and oneself.  The top, outermost layer, as with the onion, is the weather.  The temperature, the sun, the rain and wind: it’s what we all share everyday and it’s what we can start with and talk about in the form of ‘how are you’ and ‘it’s a beautiful day to be alive’ or a ‘how bout that rain, be careful out there’, ‘is it cold enough for ya?’

We go on and on in short bursts with gas station clerks and then we leave, but therein there is a soft connection as there was a sharing of each of our respective days and for a moment there was an “our day” and in that moment there is contact and that is beautiful as it, the contact, is what is most important to most of us.  In a small or big way or in another way, we need and strive for weather-talk connectiveness, whether genealogically or subconsciously, each of which is beyond our control, and also on purpose.  We strive to connect to the world around us and, at some point in every day, to feel included in the conversation, even if only a little bit.

Behind The Weather is, if you live in a big to medium sized city, The Traffic. Shortly there-deeper, as the walls of inhibition begin to fall, there lies the subjects of Mutual Friends, Mutual Experiences, Work, The Kids and, behind implications of sworn secrecy, What’s Really Going On and Hopes and Dreams and, falling in where they fit in, jokes, jokes, jokes, we’ve got jokes and laughs and silent moments of nourished comfort because someone else understands and here, within the deepest part of my onion right next to the core, “I am not alone.”

But such levels of deep connection are rare and all too often are very, very brief.  Usually, like in my family’s Prime Rib Vidalia Petals recipe,  the core of us, while in conversation, is far too dense for consumption and certainly far too private and vulnerable and valuable for sharing.  Most of the time, it’s easier to add honey and butter and heat the rest of ourselves up in the microwave and serve ourself hot and succulently sweet and we prefer this from our friends and from strangers and most of the time (93.9%), this is truly the best way to connect with those with whom we share OUR LIVES with in each day and it’s the way we should remember yesterday, with honey and butter in lieu of the core, which is far too precious to be treated as hors d’ouevres in open spaces, but, in and out of different degrees of invitation, all within the perpetual inter-depth communicational intentions upon connection, this is how we live forever today.

The We of us is a great matrix-esque network of variable conversations that move in and out of each individual with whom we encounter as if there was a pulsating slightly opaque and glowing neon sphere that starts at the base of a man’s chest and spreads out a little bit in every gas station ‘Hey how ya doin, is it hot enough for ya’ and in the response of the other man or woman’s onion-sphere stretches just a little bit and the two spheres overlap for a minute and maybe information is passed or perhaps just a smile and a brief nod with the eyes and then they leave and their respective spheres of influence draw back to within the chest to their core, which is, even if only a little bit, nourished and a bit stronger and, to a certain extent, each are more wise, as if a piece of the others’ perspective was traded just now and it will surely be traded again with another stranger, friend, family member or loved one and we, each of us, are great and wonderful and stupid and wise because, within each of us, there is everyone.

Within every conversation, there is a transaction of life.

Do More Now.


Bonus Time

Recently, as I’ve been traveling a good bit to Miami, Tampa, or Mobile or maybe just an hour south, west or north, I like to call my old friends and family to just talk with no agenda, catching up and finding out about them and what’s going on and how’s it hangin or how’s the kid or the wife or the weather up there – I heard it’s cold, nice talking to ya, see you again sometime soon. Sometimes, the friends or cousins who I call more regularly will ask, “Are you on the road?” and then they’ll laugh and endulge me awhile as we make conversation.  “No offense”, I may say sincerely as none is really meant.

This is my Bonus Time and talking during it,  while on the road, is like when a pitch was bounced in homerun derby when we were kids – if you connect it’s all the better, but if not, that’s ok too, because it doesn’t really count against you.  In the game, the batter had but ten outs to hit as many homeruns as he could.  Anything that isn’t a homer is an out.  Though, if the pitch is bounced, then it is a Bonus Pitch and the batter can swing away with no penalty.

In the car on the road with the phone, there’s literally nothing else that I could be doing, so to squeeze out some conversation from those whom I don’t usually talk to during this time, well, that’s a bonus.  It’s gravy time; the icing; the extra little bit that that is so important but so often overlooked.  But what of my friend or family whom I’m talking to?

They’re like I’d be if I weren’t driving – BUSY with work or school or at the post office or in Target getting God knows what.  In most cases, they are far too busy for weather-talk or a catch-up convo.  They are (and to be honest, I am) usually in a ‘get to the point’ tone, half listening, too distracted in the day-to-day for yesterday’s stories or mindless BS that ‘just doesn’t matter.’  The trees, the trees, the trees, where art thou forest?

But, in our defense, we’ve got to guard against our time becuase, indeed, that is all we’ve got at the end of the day when we’re tired and lazy, mind in a blender, motivation waiting till tomorrow.  Just after washing the face and brushing the teeth, while reading just before sleep, there’s a notion of the person whom you muted the ringer as way to incognore thier from-the-road call and you think, “I wonder how he / she’s doing, are they still there with them, I remember that time” and you may chuckle a little to yourself and say, “I’ll call them back tomorrow if I’m not too busy.”

Why can’t everyday, traveling or not, have a bounced up bonus pitch whereby we take thirty minutes to talk to someone we don’t see everyday.  Someone who meant alot to the you that has become.  Even if distantly, albeit they still do.

If you look at it from a certain perspective, all the time tastes like brown gravy on peas and rice.  It’s all icing on the cake.  Every minute is extra.  We might as well take the time to enjoy it with those whom we have grown to accept.

We’ve gotta water the old gardens

every now and then too.  There’s

still some fruit there I tell ya.

Do More Now


Degrees of Invitation

We’ve all been there; at a party or a wedding or a networking event or a bar where you feel as if you just don’t quite fit in.  You’re sitting there on the coach or perched in one of the less favorable spots of the bar near the trash can in the corner.  Sipping the crown and coke viciously, not because it’s that good or because you think that a little liquid courage will spontaneously ignite you in a conversation, but because it gives you something to do there in the corner by yourself or with the one friend you came with.

– The worst part is that it’s usually not like this.  Usually, you’re big pimpin’ it with a group of 8’s, laughing it up by the bar about something clever you’ve just said.  On some nights, at the old home-town parties, you’ve even been the center of attention; the axis on which the party spins.  You were the Invitor of the gathering and not just a degree of invitee.

For a party, which is probably the easiest explainable example, the Degrees of Invitation are simple:

1. If you were directly contacted by the Invitor, then you are a first degree invite.

2. If your friend was directly invited and you arrive with him / her, then you are a second degree invite.

3. If you are the friend of a friend of the Invitor, then you are a third degree invite.

Thereon, hypothetically, a friend of a friend of a friend would be a fourth degree and so on; but parties with more than ‘6 or 7’ 3+ degrees of invitation at a single party are rare.  Why?

Because ‘we don’t talk to people we don’t know.’  We are taught from a very early age, “don’t talk to strangers.”  Our group is a Meet the Parentsesque “circle of trust” with an invisible barrier set up on behalf of the group so as to preserve it and keep it in it’s own benign little culture.

Subconsciously and by the way we dress and speak in our native slang we, as members of our group, reject those who are new and those who differ from us in any sort of way.  We pick them apart behind they’re backs, saying that they are weird or we call them yankees or freaks or socia’s (The Outsiders) or, especially if you live in the south, much more discriminating names.   We click together and ignore the others on purpose as in order to be included in that covetous in-crowd.  For here must be outcasts on behalf of the insiders; but there is an exception.

Introduce the High Five Scale of Acceptance.

For years, when going out or to parties, I’ve noticed a direct relationship to the good time I have to the number of high fives I get.  Of course, I’ve considered the idea that maybe I’m just wierd (pun intended) to this effect and it’s just me, but I know, on some level, we all do this.  Of course we do.  We love to be loved; to any degree, we need to be accepted and known and have some sort of history with others so as to feel comfortable with ourself while speaking to them.

For the very act of feeling “out of place” is feeling unwelcome.  Sure, the literal act of a high five can be replaced with whatever sub-cultural norm it is for greeting someone in your socio-economic age group.  Still, the gesture of a warm, familiar greeting embarks in anyone confidence to socialize with others whom he didn’t know previously.  They (easy high fives) are like layups for a white boy in pickup game.  I practice it almost superstitiously and so has anyone who has ever been “fashionably late.”  Sometimes I’ll even schedule a ‘forgotten phone in the car’ or ‘need to stop to tie my shoe’ just to have a reason to come in to the bar a little bit after my friends and trade high fives and smiles and an exageratted “WUSSSUPPPP” and laugh ferociuosly at myself not only because it’s fun but because it’s cool.

It’s cool to be fashionably late (within the last 30%, but not the last 10% to arrive) because most of the could-be High Fives that you potentially have there, are there.  So you show up 45 minutes late and grab three easy high fives off the rip and your confidence is souring.   Now that you’ve made an easy cherry-picken hoop or two, the group will be more inclined to figuratively pass you the ball and you can run with it all night long.  It is in this way that we tend to accept the accepted and that is how entrance to groups is gained and so how groups grow.

But what if your a 3rd degree invite talking to mostly 1st and 2nd degree’ers?  There will be resistance, sure; unless you’ve grabbed a few High Fives as soon as walking in the door.  After a certain point, 3rd degree invite who gets x high fives, will become more popular at the party than even the Invitor.  This phenomenon could be called “The New Kid in Town” effect.  How many High Fives does it take to gain access to The Group?  How does the High Five Scaler of Acceptance (HFSA) measure up versus the Degree Of Invitation (DOI)?

It’s a good question, but it’ll take some more observation before I assert an honest equation.  Until then, it’s relevant to consider the people who you bring along to parties; for introductions and business associates alike.  Any good salesman knows that there is a certain pecking order needed to follow in order to get to the top of the pyramid.  He knows that it is necessary to solicit an invitation from, say, the maintenance manager prior to gaining an audience of the head of engineering.  Further, he understands that if he can build a history with the former and his collegues, then acceptance from the later will be more easily gained.  The degrees of invitation may shape one’s social circumstance, but they don’t have to; not if you play the game right and cool and enthusiastic, all at the same time while continuing to Bee yourself.

Meet more people.

Have an abundance of experience with them all.

Don’t hate, love the game and play it well.

Do More Now

Parenthesized Afterthoughts: (This idea began on a post from my old blog, entitled, The Friendly-Shady.  I’ve linked them so as to link the old MSV to this one.  Within the coming months, in business and in life, I’ll be sure to observe and post on the relationship of the High Five Scaler of Acceptance to the Degree of Invitation.  The economist in me already has a graph plotted.  Until then…)


Collaborative Consumption

“How many of you own a power drill?”, posed the orator, Rachel Botsman.  “Well,” she continues, “that power drill will be used for a total of about 13 minutes of it’s total life.”

Admitantly, I originally clicked on this video to check out the chick who’s presenting.  However, upon viewing, she introduces to me an extremely interesting concept: ‘share your stuff in lieu of buying, barely using and storing more stuff.

Rachel summarizes the logic behind this emergent economic concept saying that we, “don’t want stuff, we want the needs or experience it fulfills.”

As are alot of the videos at TED talks, this is an interesting idea; enjoy.

Now that you’ve watched it; if you will, chew on this:

If we did, indeed, learn to share our power drills so as to more effectively utilize the minimum life therein, what would happen to the production of power drills?  It’s safe to induce that the quantity of power drills supplied would be greatly reduced as the quantity demanded is reduced.  Many of those regular people with living, breathing families associated with the production and distribution of power drills would be made redundant (that’s British for laid off or fired).  Of course, being that there is a real need for power drills, at some point, equilibrium will be achieved.  But the gap left due to sharing will ripple.  Further, if sharing takes off in lieu of consumption of larger commodities such as automobiles, where will the butterfly-effected eventuality leave our monetary system?

Will we (as she implies) find ourselves full circle amidst a barter-based economy where our currency in more of a weighted average formula which is to indicate one’s “trustability.”  At some point in the not-so-distant future, she appears to argue that there may become a dilemma where the Monetary System stands in one corner and Bartering bounces aggressivly, challenging the way the world works in the opposite.  Surely the evil empire of banks and insurance would not allow for money to devalue to the point of extinction, but she does make a decent out-of-the-box argument.

Do more now…



The most important thing in life is not sex, love, nor rock and roll; it’s companionship.  It’s not power nor wealth of fine things, good stories nor an appreciation of expensive wines; it is the friends we make and keep or maybe even just know for a short season but appreciate in a single airplane conversation or over dinner or on the other side of a cash register.

It’s the age-old question; ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one was around, did the tree fall?’  Or was it just always laying there lifeless on the ground with no roots and no reach.

Every now and then I meet people like this.  People who seem to have been perpetually lying to the whole face of their world or merely lying there in it, tucked back there deep beneath a warm blanket; fetally comatose  with their arms wrapped across their ears as if guarding against a grizzly bear who seeks to crush their skull and drag them back to his cave for a later-in-the-day consumption.

It makes me sad to think of these rich-poor people who fear real life with the rest of us.  And we’ve all been there a time or two.  Too lazy to make conversation.  Too selfish to listen.  Too scared to keep searching.

But believe me, we’ve gotta fight off that great big bare feeling of loneliness because it just isn’t so; that is if you have the gumption to dare to be yourself away from that island desert cave in which you may otherwise find refuge.

” The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.” Amelia Earheart

Make connections with your world.  Within every conversation, there is a transaction of life.

Do More Now…

My Previous Vocabulary.

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