How to answer when your girlfriend enters the room and says, “What exactly do you think you’re doing?”

Of course this is humor, not meant as advice. Following any of this literally would probably be dangerous to both your relationships and your health… 😉 Trust me when I say ‘RUN Forest RUN” will be happening if you take this seriously

IT IS SATURDAY, a crisp afternoon, and you’re exactly where you should be: stretched out on the couch in front of the television, just about to watch the NFL Championship. Opening beer number two, relaxed in the knowledge that the pizza you ordered is even now on its way. Nothing could improve this moment, except maybe a bigger television. Suddenly your girlfriend/wife  enters the room and says, “What exactly do you think you’re doing?”

Is this a trick question or what?

Yes, it is. The trick is that no matter how you answer it, you will immediately find yourself driving down to your nearest home improvement center, where you will spend the rest of the afternoon trying to decide the type of curtain rod that’s right for you.

How does this work?

It has as much to do with the nature of the question itself as with anything else. Women are expert at posing questions that seem to have no right answer. Here’s a common example.

Do I look fat?

There is no answer to this question that won’t be interpreted “yes.” “No” means yes. “Yes” means yes. “I don’t know” means yes. “It doesn’t matter” means yes. The briefest hint of a pause before speaking means yes, yes, yes. Most of us would rather go to the dentist than field this one, yet it may well come up several times a week. Your only real choice is to say “no,” clearly and immediately, leaving no possibility for any subtext, and making it sound like a widely acknowledged fact and not simply your opinion. This doesn’t work, but all the other options are worse.

There are several other questions for which “no” is the only answer, and several more that call for an emphatic and unqualified yes. In all of these cases, elaboration, justification or any attempt to be funny is unlikely to pay off.

Consult this handy chart:
JUST SAY NO

Is there someone else?
Do you still fantasize about her?
Are you tired of me?

JUST SAY YES

Do you still love me?
Do you ever fantasize about me?
Do you like my hair this way?

Unfortunately, many female inquiries require more than a simple yes or no response. Some of them are more like riddles. Such as this one:

Which shoes look better?

Typically you’re already late for dinner when your girlfriend confronts you, with one pair of shoes on and another alongside them. This is no ordinary choice. It’s a devious chicken/egg puzzler, the sort of choice that would lead even Hobson to say to Mrs. Hobson, “Whichever, you old trout!” If you pick the shoes she already has on, she’ll think you’re trying to hurry her. If you pick the other pair, she’ll think it’s because you know you can’t pick the ones she has on. Some men try a nonlinear approach and opt for a third, unoffered pair of shoes, but this is inevitably taken as either an attack on her judgment or an opportunity for her to attack yours. On no account suggest another dress. You might as well say, “You’re fat.”

This raises the question of why she’s asking you at all. She knows you don’t know which shoes look better, and she knows you don’t care, so why is she trying to elicit your opinion? This is part of an ongoing campaign to domesticate you. As part of the same campaign, she will occasionally consult you about alternative table settings or new towels. In these two cases a disdainful and dismissive “beats me” should do the trick, but don’t try that with the shoe dilemma, or you’ll miss your reservation. Instead, suggest that she try on the other shoes, then tell her the first ones look better. This lets you more or less off the hook, as long as you don’t raise a fuss when she decides that the second pair are better after all.

Where do you see this relationship going?

This could be described as an essay question, since you’re obviously not going to get away with snappy little answers such as “forward” or “upstairs” or “I dunno.” Another problem is that you and your girlfriend are operating at cross purposes here. She wants a heartfelt expression of your feelings and an honest assessment of your future together, and you want an easier question. There is certainly no point in answering a toe-curling query like this one without at least a rough idea of precisely what it is she wants to hear. Questions such as this one are a category unto themselves, i.e., Questions that should be answered with another question. See how easily some of the more difficult leading inquiries can be parried through the simple deployment of reflexive interrogation.

Her: Where do you see this relationship going?
You: Where do *you* see this relationship going?

Her: Do you think she’s attractive?
You: Who?

Her: Will you marry me?
You: Where am I?

Her: What if I were pregnant?
You: Are you pregnant?
Her: Why? Do I look fat?

Whoops! We’re in a bit of trouble here. You should have seen that coming. Try a more surreal approach:

Her: What if I were pregnant?
You: What if *we* were pregnant? …. (Cool, huh?)

Some all-purpose question-answers include: How much is a lot? Why do you ask? Should I be? What are you saying? Does it matter? What’s love got to do with it? Are you talking to me? (Note: Are you having your period? is not one of these.)

Let’s try a math question. How many people have you slept with? Hmmmmm….Now, you can tell her the truth, unless the truth is more than 12, or you can have a guess at the number she’s more or less expecting. Like most arithmetic problems, the answer is a lot easier once you have a formula. This one should work as long as neither of you has sex for a living.

Number of people she’s slept with
+ Number of people she knows you’ve slept with
+ Number of people you actually have slept with.

Add these up and divide by 2. If you round up to the nearest whole person, you should end up with a realistically healthy but not particularly shocking number. If the result is greater than 12, then _say_ 12.

Why don’t you lighten up?

This rhetorical gem is used whenever you express your disapproval of shoplifting or speeding, or whenever you go to a nightclub and spend the whole time dancing to some unbelievable crap you’ve never heard and _then_ go out and _buy_ it! There is no good answer to this question. You could draw attention to her inconsistency in this matter, noting that she doesn’t like it when you act like a kid or when you act like your _dad_ (God forbid); then again, if you do that, she’s liable to see your point and break up with you. Speaking of breaking up, how about this one?

Are you saying you want to end it?

Women, like lawyers, rarely ask a direct question, unless they already know what the answer will be. As for women lawyers, I don’t know what they do, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. The point is, when a woman asks you this question, she knows you’re going to say no. Even if you want to say yes, you’ll say no. You can’t turn the question back on her, because you have no idea what her answer is going to be. If you are trying to break up with her, you’ll have to say no and start the whole painful process again. If you aren’t trying to break up with her, then it’s best to change the subject. Let’s try something easier.

Notice anything different about me?

Well, slightly easier. This question is of a piece with two others: “Have you forgotten what today is?” and “Have you been listening to a word I’ve said?” Apart from being questions that are easier to answer wrong than right, they’re the kinds of things women say in sitcoms. They are best treated in an ironic postmodern context, i.e., just say what Ward Cleaver would say.

Her: Notice anything different about me?
You: New apron? … (Ouch!)

Her: Have you forgotten what today is?
You: Of course not. It’s Thursday.

Her: Have you been listening to a word I’ve said?
You: That’s nice, dear…

Funny, huh? Well, it’s not your fault if she doesn’t get it. If she wants a better answer, she’s going to have to start asking better questions. Questions such as:

Have you taken a look at yourself lately? This question and its cousin, the almost always uncalled for “Who do you think you are?” are ways of gently reminding you how much of a factor pity was in her original decision to go out with you, and how that decision could be rescinded if you behave in any way that cannot be described as abject. You probably brought this rebuke on yourself by mentioning that you reckon Brad Pitt is getting a little chubby or by speculating that Jack Nicholson doesn’t have to wait until his birthday for  sex. You’re not really supposed to answer either of these questions. You’re just supposed to apologize for your wanton self-esteem-having. Instead of apologizing, just smile. Your manifold inadequacies as a boyfriend – nay, as a man – are a kind of revenge all by themselves. Next!

Do you believe in fidelity?

Like most philosophical questions that seem to pop up out of the blue, this question doesn’t pop up out of the blue. This general query about fidelity is in fact a coded inquiry about the extent of your fidelity on a specific occasion or occasions. Your response will also have to be coded. Consult this translation chart before giving your answer:

YOU SAY – Yes
YOU MEAN – How much does she know?
SHE THINKS – He’s hiding something.

YOU SAY – It depends
YOU MEAN – How much does she know?
SHE THINKS – I knew it!

YOU SAY – Why do you ask
YOU MEAN – How much does she know?
SHE THINKS – Bastard!

YOU SAY – I dunno. Do you?
YOU MEAN – How much does she know?
SHE THINKS – How much does he know?

There are several more variations, but they’re not worth going into. By the time she asks you this question, you’re already in deep trouble. It doesn’t really matter what you say, as long as you don’t blush when you answer.

Let’s look at an example that calls for more straightforward lying.

What are you looking at?

She means, “You were looking at that girl, weren’t you?” And you thought you’d perfected that trick of keeping your neck still and just letting your eyes swivel. Obviously, the truth is not the best answer here. We all know that the truth can set you free, sometimes before you’ve found somewhere else to stay. It may seem easy enough to answer this question with a cunning lie, but when men are caught offguard, their ability to deceive is impaired.

Here are a few of the more common mistakes men make when asked, “What are you looking at?”

Too specific: The rust around the bolts on the handle on the flap of that mailbox on the northwest corner.”
Not specific enough: “That thing.”
Too good to be true: “A diamond necklace in that window back there that would be perfect on you.”
Too true to be good: “A see through nightie in that window back there that would be perfect on you.”
Too obvious: “Nothing.”
Way too obvious: “That blonde babe over there with the big…I mean nothing.”

Here’s one that requires a little interpretation.

What are we going to do now?

This one often crops up whenever some kind of emergency or seemingly unsolvable problem arises. The part that requires interpretation is the mysterious “we” in the middle. This means two things: In one sense, “we” clearly means “you,” as in, “What are you going to do now,” but there is also a sense of “we’re in this together,” implying that you bear equal responsibility for the fact that she’s just dropped her keys down a grate, or that she stores her jack and spare tire in her garage so they won’t get stolen.

In such situations you’ll probably find that the only answer to “What are we going to do now?” that you can think of is “We are going to break up. Goodbye.” Most likely you’ll decide not to say anything. After which she will probably let loose with the rather ill-advised:

Why don’t you say something?

Whether you answer this one is up to you. There is only one question that you should never, ever answer. Keep silent, cower behind your Fifth Amendment rights, pretend you didn’t hear, run away, whatever, but don’t say anything when she asks:

Should I get all of my hair cut off?

If you say anything, then when she does get all her hair cut off (and let’s face it, she’s already made up her mind) and she hates it (and she will hate it), it will be your fault. Even if you say absolutely nothing, the best you can hope for is that she will come home with all her hair cut off, stare you straight in the eye and say:

Does it make me look fat!!?

…..You’re on your own…..

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I gaze 30 yrs out into the future and give my stone cold predictions for 2046 sure to come true

Every Dec, I take time out to gaze into my crystal ball and make my forecast for the year ahead. Often people are stunned by the incredible [lack of] accuracy of my forecasts. But like Doc Brown in BACK TO THE FUTURE I fearlessly put the Helmet on again

Hopefully very few of you will go rummaging around in the archives for my predictions from last year. In retrospect, I have to admit I erred in a few of my prognostications.

Here are some of my PREDICTIONS FROM LAST YEAR that did not turn out quite as I had predicted (Note to self: Make a note to upgrade to Crystal Ball Version 3.0 before next year):

You heard it here first: The ‘bromance’ film The Hangover 4 will nudge out Jack Ass 3D for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Mike Tyson will win Best Supporting Actor, for his portrayal of, well, Mike Tyson. Avatar2 will be a total commercial flop at the box office and be completely shut out come Oscar time.

Goldman Sachs, having earned record-breaking profits only two years after the financial meltdown it helped cause, will make amends to the nation and singlehandedly solve the nation’s debt crisis by offering to pay down the entire US federal debt – and still have enough left over to pay each of its executives their annual $1 million year-end bonus. (Well, I got the $1 million bonuses part right at least.)

President Obama : will surprise his critics by selecting Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report (right) to be the USA’s next ambassador to the United Nations. Colbert’s first U.N. resolution, a condemnation of North Korean ruler King Jong Il’s hairstyle (on human rights grounds), is unanimously adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

In a period of unprecedented political bipartisanship, the leaders of both major political parties will sign a “peace accord” to end all their partisan bickering and name calling once and for all and will come together to sign the wildly popular healthcare reform bill.

After three years of trying to make sense of the phenomenon, the American public will finally figure out what the heck is the point of Twitter.

Sarah Palin, having had her 15 minutes of fame, will fade into obscurity and never be heard from again.

Okay, I admit it. 2015 was not one of my better years for prognosticating. Let’s face it, I probably won’t do any better for 2016. So this year, for a change, I thought I would gaze further into the future – 30 years out – to the year 2046. Why so far out, you ask? Because, according to my doctor, the odds are 7 to 2 that I won’t be around by then. So I really won’t care how far off the mark I was. Let’s get started.

In sports: The NY Giants set a NFL record for losing their 36th game in a row after leading with 5 seconds left. President Barack Obama Jr immediately puts out an executive order to inject the DNA of Lawrence Taylor into every team member. Speaker of the house Ted Cruz immediately calls for a shutdown of the govt.

The World: The war in Afghanistan, now in its 40th year, will show signs of winding down, due in part to the fact that there are only 167 people still living in Afghanistan.

Hopes for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace accord will rise when the Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu now 110 yrs old, extends an olive branch, offering to let Palestinians claim full control over Jerusalem as their undivided Capitol. Hopes will fade once more when it becomes clear he was referring to Jerusalem, Ohio.

Politics: The United States of America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the People’s Republic of China since 2026, will elect its first non-human as president, when the Sony QRIO-400, Sony USA’s fourth generation robot with artificial intelligence exceeding that of any human being, will win the election. Sony QRIO-400 will narrowly defeat the 55-year-old former rock legend, Senator Gaga, from the state of Key West (the 53rd state), in the closest presidential election since New York Governor Alex Rodriguez narrowly edged out New Jersey Congresswoman Snooki in the 2028 election.

Mark Zuckerberg, Prime Minister of the breakaway Republic of Facebookistan, will announce a truce in his longstanding cyber war with the nation of Googleonia over the two nations’ longtime territorial dispute over the region formerly known as northern California.

The Economy: Thanks to new discoveries of massive oil and natural gas deposits in the Arizona region known as Texaco Cliffs (formerly known as Grand Canyon National Park), it will be another record-breaking year for oil companies. Those consumers who still drive gasoline-powered antique automobiles will benefit too, as the price of gasoline plummets to under $220 a gallon.

The employment situation will improve for the third year in a row, for robots and droids. For humans, unemployment remains flat at around 87%, thanks in part due to the fact that the only jobs currently available to humans are coffee drive-through barista, circus lion tamer and NFL cheer leader. No, wait. My bad. Just lion tamer and cheer leader. Sorry, people. The robots will have taken all the barista jobs too.

Science & Technology: 2042 will see the final demise of the Internet after decades of being plagued by viruses and slow performance. The last known Internet user – an 87-year old Inuit fisherman from Baffin Island, Canada – will pull the plug and throw his computer modem out onto the Arctic pack ice. (Correction: The Arctic pack ice will actually have disappeared permanently several years earlier, in 2026.)

The successor to the Internet, the Skin-Implanted Connectivity Chip (or SICC) will have been successfully implanted in more than 72% of humans, giving them instant 24/7 3D virtual connectivity anywhere in the world – except for a six- block section of downtown Manhattan, where reception is still rather spotty. Damn you AT&T !!!!

Transportation: New improvements in aviatic autoliners (otherwise known as flying cars) will take another step forward, now that the auto port re-fueling stations are finally open for business on the Moon (three years behind schedule). In a related story, Starbucks will announce plans to build 7,500 coffee bistros on the Moon by the year 2047.

Speaking of cars, China, the leader in auto manufacturing, will announce that the next generation of H2O-powered vehicles will get better fuel economy than previous water-fueled models. Leading the way, the new Hummer Hydrate, at an impressive 450 miles per gallon, which is easily re-fueled by means of Hummer’s patented custom-fitted garden hose (hose sold separately for $110,999). In a related story, BP will announce plans to purchase glacier-covered Greenland from Denmark, ensuring enough fuel to keep American motorists driving for at least 5 more years.

Travel & Leisure: Thanks to the long-awaited mass commercialization of time travel in 2037, time travel virtual vacations to exotic destinations will have become routine by now. Complications will emerge when 32,000 South Florida retirees travel back to the year 2000, change their butterfly ballot vote to Gore. Nice try, but Bush still wins the election the second time around.

Celebrity News: Lindsay Lohan will celebrate her 55th birthday this year by completing her latest rehab stint, proclaiming she has finally overcome her addiction to Diet Snapple Ice Tea. In her press conference leaving the Whitney Houston Clinic, Lohan hints that her next addiction will involve some type of breakfast cereal. My crystal ball’s hazy but it looks like it could be Captain Crunch.

The nation will mourn the shocking death of former President Mark Wahlberg in a fishing accident off the Pacific coast of Utah. President Wahlberg will probably best be remembered for his annual State of the Union addresses, in which he always delivered his speech without wearing a shirt. Mitt Romney running again for president again denies that Mitt Romney ever existed.

Health & Fitness: After a 15-year longitudinal study, scientists will conclude that a rigorous program of daily weight training, yoga, and aerobic activity poses serious health hazards to middle-aged people over the age of 110.

The Surgeon General will reveal what has long been suspected: A diet of low-fat, high fiber foods, low in sodium and sugar, poses dangerous health risks and recommends a diet rich in red meat, processed starch, and ice cream products. In a related story, the tobacco industry will cheer the results of new research from the American Medical & Tobacco Association that proves once and for all that a daily regimen of nicotine and carcinogens can add several years to your life.

Well, those are my predictions for 2046. Be sure to put a note in your 2041 virtual calendar to check back to this blog and see how well I did. In the remote chance in 2046, my body has become a hologram or has been stashed away in some deep freeze storage pod while scientists work on a way to bring people back to life, no worries. Just rent yourself a time machine, go back in time to Aug 2016, track me down, and let me know how I did. Many thanks.

On Veterans Day A poem a soldier wrote on the death of another man

nochancepappy webblog

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?'” -Eve Merriam

This is one of the most touching poems you will read about the anguish any soldier or person inflicts upon himself when in war, when he causes the death of another. Being as I was Iraq/Somalia and Kosovo as a US Army Special Forces soldier this was a reality and a fear that we all held. I remember vividly like it was yesterday seeing a soldier blown to pieces 20 yds from me.

I pray everyday I will never have to embrace this kind of horror again, but I stood ready as we trained to. I know a lot of men and woman who have had to…

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Learn from a Hustler and write your own paycheck

Once, I heard a non-hustler say, “I can’t live on the money my company pays me.” This person felt his company owed him enough money to meet the standard of living he had set for himself.

Another time, a non-hustler said to me, “No one paid for my college, so I didn’t get to go.” This non-hustler took no responsibility for making his own way through college, believing it was his parents’ obligation to foot the bill. Like most non-hustlers, these two had a strong sense of entitlement.

Hustlers, on the other hand, know no one owes them anything. They believe they can have anything they desire by doing the work necessary to obtain it, whether it’s a material possession or something more important, such as a meaningful relationship, personal growth and a contribution to their communities. Because they don’t feel entitled, hustlers do the work.

Because hustlers do not feel a sense of entitlement, they don’t wait around for someone to pay them what they’re worth. Hustlers don’t resent their bosses or companies for not paying them more. Instead, they make their contribution, take on responsibility and hold themselves accountable for producing greater results.

For truly great success, you must know what it is you need to do. No one else can show you…

The non-hustler becomes resentful if he doesn’t receive more money. He gets angry and stews, looking around for others to validate his conviction that he is owed something.

Hustlers don’t feel that anything they lack is something they’re due. They don’t believe it’s anyone else’s responsibility to educate them. They don’t miss the trust funds they were never given. Hustlers don’t blame any past deprivation for their current circumstances. To the hustler, the lack of something he desires is simply fuel for his passion to go out and get it.

No one owes you anything—not your parents, your government, your school system, your society, your employer. Believing this will liberate you from the prison of entitlement and empower you to act on your own behalf.

If you want to be successful, you must observe this one important rule: Let no one ever tell you what your paycheck should be.

If someone has to tell you what your goals are, then the only goals you’ll have are someone else’s.
If someone has to tell you what your major responsibilities are, then you aren’t doing enough to be as successful as you could be.
If someone has to remind you what you need to do, you’re likely failing yourself.
If someone has to tell you what to do, then you’re squandering the gift of being human and wasting your initiative, resourcefulness, creativity and determination.

If you work for someone else, develop your own goals and define what success means beyond what your company needs you to do. Seek out new responsibilities, take it upon yourself to find out what needs to be done and do it. Be so proactive that no one will ever dare tell you what to do. Do all these things and you will soon find yourself in a leadership role.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, own your own company and do your own thing, there won’t be anyone there to tell you what to do. Until you develop the ability to do what is necessary without being told, you aren’t ready to strike out on your own. Until you are willing to do what must be done—even when you absolutely don’t want to do it—you’ll never reach the level of success of which you are capable.

Would you like to know the secret to success? It’s taking 100 percent responsibility for everything you experience in your life. This includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings—everything! This is not easy to do.

In fact, most of us have been conditioned to blame something outside ourselves for the parts of our lives we don’t like. We tend to blame our parents, our bosses, our friends, our co-workers, our clients, our spouses, the weather, the economy, our astrological charts, our poor finances—anyone or anything on which we can pin the blame. We never want to look at where the real problem lies: ourselves.

If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you must take 100 percent responsibility for your life as it is right now. That means giving up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reasons why you can’t do something and why you haven’t done something up until now and all your need to blame outside circumstances. You have to give them all up…forever.

You must take the position that you have always had the power to make it different, to get it right, to produce the desired results. For whatever reason (ignorance, lack of awareness, fear, needing to be right, needing to feel safe) you have chosen not to exercise that power. Who knows why? It really doesn’t matter. The past is the past. All that matters now is that from this point forward you will choose—that’s right, it’s a choice—to act as if (that’s all that’s required: to act as if) you are 100 percent responsible for everything that does or does not happen to you

If something doesn’t turn out as planned, you will ask yourself “How did I create that? What thoughts did I have to bring this about? What were my beliefs? What did I say or not say? What did I do or not do to create that result? How did I get the other person to act that way? What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?”

Here’s an exercise to help you do that. Answer each question as honestly as you can:

What is a difficult or troubling situation in your life?
How are you creating it or allowing it to happen?
What are you pretending not to know?
What is the payoff for keeping things the way they are?
What would you rather be experiencing?
What actions will you take to create that?
By what date will you take that action?

It’s easy to blame someone or something else for the disappointments you face in life. But by owning every aspect of your life, you are simply recognizing that the power to create the life you’ve dreamed of has been yours all along.

Learn from everyone; seek out good advice; model yourself on those you admire—but let no one tell you how much you are worth. Write your own paycheck

The lessons of Failure that lead to Success

When I was in L.A. at Fox Studios I was reminded of one thing.  Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame anybody for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents or the Government for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise  anybody for experiencing  poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have  been poor, and I  agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience.   Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools.

What I feared most for myself was not poverty, but failure.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what makes up failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere ten years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. A series of exceptionally short-lived relationships had imploded, and I was jobless, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern the U.S without being homeless. The fears that my parents had for me, and that I had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be since represented a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope and not a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive.   And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and  the fount of all invention and innovation. In it’s arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life was living in Germany  Though I was in the Military I volunteered my time by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was then, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week,  I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

In every War, very day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or support power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International and in the Military than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilizes thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creäture on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to stay comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.  They can claim the President is the reason their lives are a failure, never seeing the collective reason why we are sliding into a rabbit hole for the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves.      

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise,  enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we colluded with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

My  travels in the  military allowed me see the wonders if the universe.  Whether in Germany or Spain  …whether in Korea or China  whether in Montana or in NYC  you see the best that people have to offer.  How wonderful  it is though that no one has to wait a single moment to make the world a better place.   

Imagine if all the men and women who gave so much of themselves to this country didn’t have to be Homeless. Last year it was reported close to 250 thousand men and women who served were homeless.  

Imagine if we didn’t have to hear about stories a 5 year old child who was dying and the insurance company refused to pay anymore for his medicine because they said “It cost to much”.   Or the  Golden Gate  which was closed down because of repairs that cost to much.  

In 20 yrs will we be traveling on worse roads  Will water be clean …will China be the leading manufacturer of  Solar panel and will we be traded  for another hostage with companies American and foreign, that in many cases wish us anything but good?

The answers to these questions depends on a great many things I lived in Europe for 5 yrs  The infrastructure compared to ours. We’re moving along in the equivalent of a Ford Pinto  with bridges rotting and falling down, while other nations, our competitors in the global economy, are building efficient, high-speed, high-performance  platforms to power their 21st-century

We used to be smarter than this but  Washington all but gave up thinking. America’s infrastructure, education and people, once the finest in the world, has been neglected for decades.  We’ve become stupid about this.

Much of the nation’s rail is approaching the tail end of its useful life. If you’ve flown anywhere recently, you know what a nightmare that can be. To the extent that we have any  all, , often doing more harm than good as it serves the interests of politicians who are crazy for pork and not the real needs of the American public.

You can’t thrive as a nation while New Orléans is drowning, and Detroit is being beaten into oblivion decade after decade, and a bridge in Minneapolis is collapsing into the Mississippi River, and cities in upstate New York and the Rust Belt are rotting from lack of employment opportunities, and so on.

Imagine, instead, an America with rebuilt, healthy, dynamic metropolitan areas, and gleaming new port facilities, and networks of high-speed rail, an America with electric vehicles and a smart grid and energy generated by the power of the sun and wind and water and the ocean’s waves. Imagine if the children of today’s toddlers had access to world-class public schools all across the nation and a higher education system that is both first-rate and affordable.

Imagine if we set out seriously to do all this.

I have one last hope for everybody,  The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life.  At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for President.

So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. Unless you meet them Facebook friends are not real friends nor following Movie Stars will make you part of their lives. Its like saying going to church makes you religious or standing in your garage makes you a car.   Tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

How to be in the Diamond Club of Winners

Contingency plans are unnecessary. I am not making plans for failure because I am not planning to fail . Diamond mentally is very simple . Contingency PLANS ARE UNNECESSARY . You CANNOT LET ANYBODY STEAL YOUR DREAM . YOU ARE IN A BATTLE . AND THEY WANT TO STEAL IT ..they want to keep you where you are at. You have got to be willing to fight.

You need to remember , If you want to be understood by 2 % of the nation You will be misunderstood by the 98% . Some of you are already eliminated because you are worried by what other people think

But you see to be part of the 2 % you need to step out of the comfort zone, the decision has to be made that you are a diamond.
YOU wont look back , let up slow up or back away . Your past is forgotten , Your present is focused , Your future is secure . You are finished and done with low living sidewalk people , cheap excises and dwarf goals . You no longer need preeminence, position , promotion , promised or popularity . You don’t have to be praised regarded or awarded. You died to the self centered ego driven limp lifestyle . You live by faith , learn by submitting , labor by love , lead by example . Your dream is developed, Your decision is definite , your decision and desire determined, your pace is fast and set , your road is narrow , your way is tough. Your purpose is clear
YOU cannot be brought compromised detoured lured away , turned back deluded ,delayed or denied .You will not flinch in the face of sacrifice ; hesitate in the presence of the adversary; negotiate at the table of failure ; ponder in the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

You wont give up , shut up, let up, till you stayed up , paid up and stood up .
You must fight when others faint , go where others wont , give till you drop, teach and work till the task is finished . and when YOU lie exhausted on the playing field of the dreamers . The diamond club of winners wont have any trouble recognizing YOU as one of their own

My search for Miss Vancouver and how I became Lord of the Idiots

I started to have this crush on this woman from Vancouver Washington

She was a beautiful woman and I was content to have a silent crush on on Match.com. But Like all the fella’s of the day … I wanted to meet her. Looking back in at some old pictures of myself trying to date the ladies… I was going to have difficulty. The kids were scared …women were scared In fact all of NY was. Here I was in the beginning of my quest.

Obviously it would be a massive MASSIVE quest …Here is what I mean

Now I needed to get in shape, to get strong, because no one was gonna date the fat kid … I almost failed but I wasn’t going to give up the dream I wasn’t going to quit

But here I am at on my rehearsal date . Obviously I still needed a lot of work

Here I am not having discovered a razor yet nor read the book “how to pick up women” My dream of meeting her was far off. Fantasy Island far off

Here I am out of college living in NYC. Still a sounding like Steve Corell 40 Yr old virgin Was there any Hope for me?

But I was brave I continued to push forward but a blind date with this woman scared the hell out of me…you got to be careful about who you pick up in a bar and what bars you go to meet them in NYC. I almost didn’t survive

Then a miracle I became smooth…. suave…The women loved me …I had my choice …people thought I made a deal with the devil…no …just with MensWarehouse

I was hanging out with great people …I was excited as you can see below …I was going to take all my friends …my dream was close. I was off to Vancouver !!!!

I was ready for the show… I knew what I believed in and what I wanted

But here is what happened when I saw her walking up to me . I lost all my courage

Here is what happened when I kissed her for the first time . I was the red M&M

…Oh well I went back to training.She left me .. I am the Lord of the Idiots … Thank God the above was only a dream  or was it !!!!.