Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Finding Time

I guess what I am really talking about here is finding clarity in what you want to do. I often find myself “not having time” to do things that I say are important to me. But is this really true? Because at the end of the day, if something is important enough, you will somehow find the time to do it, won’t you?

So we need to be clear about what we really want to do – because if you consistently find yourself running out of time to do something, perhaps that thing really isn’t that important to you. You may think it is, but your actions (or lack thereof) would appear to say otherwise.

This dilemma isn’t quite as simple as it seems, of course – for example, there are levels of desire and motivation to accomplish various goals, and there most definitely are real world obstacles that can stand in the way of doing them. Sometimes these obstacles are time limited, sometimes they might be financial, and sometimes the obstacle may simply be “in your head” (this is a topic for another discussion entirely).

So if you say you want to do something but then find yourself  “never having the time” to do it, there would appear to be some disconnect here. Perhaps you need to delve a little deeper to find out what’s causing it.

Maybe you don’t really want to do it.

Or maybe you’re afraid to do it

You Are What You Do

Watch out for this one – because it can catch you by surprise. You may not actually realize what you are doing with your time. For example, you might think you are doing something, but in reality you aren’t.

What you are doing is thinking about doing something, which is not the same thing as actually doing it.

Self-awareness can be a hard one.


A gradual decline into disorder.

I guess this is as good a definition as any of aging. It’s not pretty to watch, much less to see it happen to you – but in the present real world, the only alternative is death. There is, at this time, no way to stop this process. But at the very least, we can try to maximize what time we have left. And here’s where things get interesting…

Before we start, it’s important to understand a very important concept: you don’t want to spend so much time thinking about and researching this stuff that you get distracted from the actual process of living. So there is a fine line to walk between being engaged with your health and trying to stay abreast of new trends and just fucking enjoying life. So let’s don’t ever forget that. There are times where I wonder if I am crossing that line – but at least I am aware of it.

IMHO, the single most important thing you can do to maximize your state of health is to exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it could be as simple as walking some everyday. But it has to be consistent, and you do need to try and “push yourself” – in other words, at some point it shouldn’t be easy. After exercise, diet and sleep are the next priorities. I know, this sounds so simple, because IT IS. There’s a reason why you’ve heard this stuff over and over… Diet shouldn’t be complicated, just make it balanced and try to cut down on your sugar intake as much as possible. Of course you can still eat some sugar – just be aware it’s a special treat and it’s not good for you. Eat plenty of protein and don’t skimp on the fat. Fat is extremely satiating (meaning you get full quickly, and more important, you stay full). One of the reasons adequate protein intake is so important, especially as we age, is the phenomenon of sarcopenia – that is, the “loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process.” We need to consume more protein as we age to help combat this process.

Read investigative journalist Nina Teicholz’s book “The Big Fat Surprise” and prepare to be confused and shocked. Once you get your fat and protein intake up and your sugar intake down, you will start to lose weight. Exercise will accelerate this process. But start with baby steps – make this a slow and enjoyable journey of self-discovery, something you will do for the rest of your life.

There’s more (much more) you can do, but these are the big ones. Just always remember that you must enjoy life. This moment isn’t happening again, so you need to be grateful for what you have. In the meantime, entropy is grinding away in the background.

Use this knowledge to motivate you to live life to the fullest.

Rough Day

Question: How do you define a rough day in the ER?

Answer: When the morgue calls to tell you they’re running out of space.

“You Were Made For This Job”

When you are the charge nurse in a very busy inner city ER, and a patient comes up to you to tell you this in the middle of what appears to be an overwhelming shitstorm, there is only one proper response.

You look them in the eye, smile, and say “Thank you.

And you think to yourself “They’re probably right…”


The determination to continue what you are doing.”

This is a very powerful personality trait and is usually, but not always, a positive one. Tenacious people are survivors – they will power through adversity and pain unfazed. To the casual observer they may seem unremarkable – it’s only over time that their true nature reveals itself. They will be the last ones standing. Anytime you have someone who is undeterred by failure, opposition, and disappointment, you are dealing with a formidable person.

However, carried too far, this trait can become a fault. Flexibility and constant reassessment are necessary to control the desire to carry on in a futile endeavor. To the tenacious person this can be difficult to do. It requires judgment, something that may be absent in youth.

But add tenacity to a focused desire to achieve something and you have a lethally effective combination.

Most people give up when the going gets tough. The tenacious person is just getting started…

27 Years

That’s how long ago she died. It seems so long ago now, but if I think back, it’s as clear as yesterday. I guess these are the things that accumulate in your life and end up defining who you are.

She was fucking crazy, no doubt about that. But she was still my sister, and somewhere deep down, she still shared a childhood with me – it wasn’t a good one, but it was ours. It ended up killing her, but for us it was all we had.

I wish I could say we were close, but that would be a lie. We were just two lost souls, trying to survive in an environment of chaos and neglect, of madness with a hard heart and no love for a helpless child. It was like that line at the end of Night of the Hunter – “It’s a cruel world for little things.”

Why did I survive and she didn’t? Well, for one thing, I managed to find a stable human who loved me in spite of all my flaws, and who supported me and hung in there until I got better. I’m now a 61 year old man who long ago made peace with his past. Sometimes, if you’re lucky to live long enough, it all comes together. I was in my 50’s when the penny dropped for me.

She ended up checking out on her own terms, overwhelmed by the kind of crazy that wasn’t going to be fixed. She was broken and nothing, at least in her mind, was going to make it better.

I loved her in my own fucked up way, but I was dangerously unstable and desperately trying to hold my own shit together, so I just did the best I could. I would have handled it so differently now, but I just didn’t have the tools or the maturity at the time. I was still trying to invent a life and be a functional human with no clue how to do it.

So Rest In Peace my sister. You’re gone but not forgotten. You taught me there are things in life that can’t be fixed. It was a brutally hard but important lesson to learn.

When You’re Not Sure What To Do

Just look for ways to help. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do – try to see what needs to be done and start there.

Once you start thinking like this, your next step will become obvious, and it will lead you places you you never imagined.

Have a nice trip!

Using The Algorithm As Your Partner

We all know that algorithms are constantly attempting to “guide” us in our choices. It’s just an inescapable part of being alive in 2018, and it will undoubtedly become woven deeper and deeper into the fabric of our lives as time goes on. And this isn’t necessarily a completely bad thing. But it cannot be the only way we discover new things.

We still have to be engaged in the process of discovery – we must use the algorithm as our partner. We must learn to exploit it, before allowing it to exploit us first. In a world of infinite choices, we can use it as a blunt instrument if we choose, or we can (at least attempt) to choose not to use it at all. Because here’s the thing – if you are looking for new music in a library of 30 million songs (Spotify & Apple for example), you need some fucking help here – you’ll be long dead before you can randomly (or even purposefully) work your way through it. But here’s where old school meets new school: you can combine the algorithms recommendations with word of mouth. Remember that? That’s where other people recommend stuff, whether it’s people you know directly or just other passionate fans talking about it in different mediums. What’s cool about today is – there are a lot of outlets for people to express themselves without a corporate sponsor. Blogs and podcasts, for example.

Algorithms aren’t going away, so the smart thing to do is try to use them for our own purposes. We can continue to search for interesting stuff the way we always have, just by jumping down rabbit holes and following the trail from one thing to another. And while we are doing this, the algorithms are dutifully watching what we do, trying to figure out what we want to see next. Nothing wrong with using that as an effective search tool in it’s own right…

Enter Title Here

Or maybe not. Trust me, if I had a title, I’d enter it. Tonight I don’t. Back tomorrow, right now, sleep.

No worries, ER just required all of my energy.


Transported To Another Reality

I’m one of those people who is super impressionable when it comes to art. I mean, if it speaks to me, it’s as if I completely immerse myself in it to the point where it becomes my reality, it begins to re-define the parameters of what seem’s possible. It used to be such a disappointment when other people didn’t feel the same way, but I let that go a long time ago.

What happens is this: I see or hear something that resonates with me, and it’s like a rush of information suddenly hitting me on many more levels than I can consciously process – so I just submit to the experience and let it wash over and through me, like diving into the ocean. I don’t know what’s happening, I’m just entranced and overwhelmed by this new and novel experience.

Another thing I have noticed with these experiences is that there are layers to it, and it’s only after multiple viewings that these layers peel away and expose what’s going on in the deeper levels. I’ve often thought that great art always has a “high line” and a “low line.” What I mean is that there will be a superficial level that can be recognized and enjoyed by the most casual (i.e. dumbest)  viewer, and then there are these deeper things going on for those who care to look closer.

I want to make a distinction here – my definition of art is simply something that was created purely as a form of self expression. Whether or not commerce has anything to do with it is irrelevant. So a multi-million dollar movie and miniature tapestries woven on socks in prison are, at least to me, playing on the same level (don’t forget the movie was based on a story written by somebody who was expressing something). For their ability to transport me to another reality, Yo Yo Ma and a homeless guy playing a self made instrument are both on an even plane. True story: I am a musician who spent decades playing and studying music, and I’ll never forget standing in a freezing, empty Boston subway station one night decades ago. There was what appeared to be a homeless guy who had made an instrument out of a broom handle, string and a metal bucket. The bucket was upside down with the string threaded through a hole in the bottom and attached to the far end end of the broom handle. So it was kind of a primitive acoustic bass – the tighter he made the string by moving the broom handle, the higher the pitch when he plucked it. Because it was an empty subway station, the acoustics were incredible – just this long, natural reverb. Now mind you, he wasn’t doing this for me – I just happened upon him. I remember standing there, waiting for the train, just stunned.

This guy was a virtuoso – playing these beautiful melodies and and walking bass lines. Pitch and time was fucking perfect, tone to die for. At some point the train came and I picked my jaw up off the floor and got on.

But not before the sound and everything I experienced at the scene were burned into my brain. Forever. He truly changed my concept of what was possible. My reality about the world I lived in changed just a little bit after that.

Art is transformative. It just makes life better.

How Do You Explain…

I’ve often thought about the mystery of the child prodigy – how do we explain this phenomenon? Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was eight years old. How is this possible?

One possible explanation requires a significant leap of faith – the idea of reincarnation might serve as a purely speculative theory. But what if you’re not ready to accept something that is impossible to prove as a real hypothesis? What else might explain it?

What about the idea that specific knowledge might be encoded in our DNA and passed down to the following generations through our genes? It’s certainly a novel concept, one that begets yet another question…

How specific might the information be that is passed on through the genetic pathway? Is it just a proclivity, or full blown knowledge related to a field of study?

Just letting my mind wander here folks. It’s a fun way to amuse yourself…

Here’s A Thought

Take some fucking pride in what you do.

Whatever you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability.

Do it because that’s who you are, not for someone else’s approval.

When you do something well, feel good about yourself.

You earned it.


Here’s a word that gets thrown around a lot – so much so that it’s easy to lose sight of just how powerful a group of motivated people can be.

There’s some kind of weird synergistic energy thing that happens when multiple people share the same goal. And make no mistake – things can get messy, confrontational and downright uncomfortable. But I would argue this is not something to be afraid of and avoid, and it’s not a sign of dysfunction – on the contrary; it’s a sign that the people involved are passionate and engaged.

All that really matters is that at the end of the day shit gets done.

And every time the group goes through this sometimes painful process, an unexpected thing happens.

The team gets stronger.

Just To See If You Can

Sometimes this thought alone is enough fuel to motivate me to try something. I start thinking “Hmm – I wonder if I could do that?” It’s always been part of my natural personality, but I’ve recently noticed something interesting. In the past I would look at these challenges as a personal thing that really meant nothing to anyone but myself. But I’ve discovered that if the thing you are trying to do might benefit others, it can really take on a power of its own and truly become a “win win” situation.

It can be kind of weird though, because to a third party it might look like “Oh, what an altruistic person, devoting his own time for the benefit of others.” When in reality it was just your own desire to test yourself and see if you could do something.

It’s like you get a double bang for your buck – the personal thrill of pushing yourself to see what you can do, and then the satisfaction (if you can pull it off) of helping others!

“You Have To Become More and More Like Yourself”

Hmmm… What exactly does this mean? I would postulate that this as the ultimate goal of living – to find out who you truly are, and realize that potential to its fullest.

As an added bonus – the more fully realized and authentic you are, the more charismatic and attractive you become to others, which brings all sorts of other advantages as well.

Life is more fun when people like you.

Oh My…

Strokes and stemis.

Pneumos and chest tubes.

Overdoses and intubations.


Done for the day.

That’s all I’ve got folks. Back tomorrow…


Don’t Be So Quick To Judge

It’s oh so easy to look at a situation after the fact, as a third party, and say (with complete moral authority) “How could anyone do that?

Well, here’s some news that you undoubtedly already know, and would have taken into account had you stopped to think before rushing to judgment: the world isn’t black or white. Not only is it all gray, it’s a very complex and multifactorial shade of gray. Often there is no definitive “right” answer or solution to a problem, there is only the best available option.

This discussion can get pretty uncomfortable in the real world. A good example is triaging in a mass casualty event (something I have never done BTW). I have been trained to do it, but thankfully have not (yet) been put in that situation. One of the ethical decisions the person triaging must make is to use their training and experience to decide who has the best chance of surviving and who doesn’t. What this means is that this person must assess the nature of the woundeds trauma, and decide whether or not it would be a wise use of available resources to attempt to save them. Remember: You must use whatever resources you have for those with the best chance of surviving. Someone has to make these decisions for the greater good.

How easy would it be to second guess these decisions after the fact?

How difficult would it be to make these decisions in the heat of the moment?

So don’t be so quick to pass judgment – you don’t know what decision you might have made if you were put in that situation…