Thursday, April 29, 2010


When dealing with any sort of challenge, a good strategic mind looks at the various options before deciding on the course of action. One has to weight the costs, in money and effort, versus the gains or losses, whether this path leads to better results than those, and so on.

Most of the time, the biggest impediment to strategic thinking involves emotional speculation. We tend to use our imagination mostly to do shoddy guess work of other people's reactions to a situation, mostly due to fear and social anxiety. As an example, how many people declare themselves of a particular religion or denomination, simply because that's "hows its done and that's how it goes", because being Irish means being Catholic, or being Arab means being Muslim, or being an inner city black means being something of a gangster and ghetto, and so forth.

How many people imagine what life is and how life works, entirely based on what goes on within the confines of their little neighborhood? A fish in a tank cannot imagine what life is like, or even conceive of such a thing as the sea. If you keep your vision short and narrow, then strategic thinking cannot take place; at best, you can do very well tactically, which is short and narrow indeed, envisioning only a limited array of possibility of outcomes and consequences. That is how most mistakes are made, and how people get stuck in a rut.

By thinking strategically, it is necessary to look beyond the next work day, the next week, the next corner. You have to start thinking beyond what your family would think, and start seriously thinking about longer term effects. How likely are those inconveniences to remain, versus the effects of the benefits? Is not attending a family dinner worth your mother being pissed off a few months versus attending a workshop that will benefit you for months, or years to come? Whose opinion matters the most, the career counsellor's, or your dad's? Does the family tradition of being in this one area, and working in this field, for generations on end the best plan? r should you start looking outside the home range for a range of possibilities?

Often, strategic thinking involves looking at a challenge from multiple angles, which bears different viewpoints that allow for more complex geometric thinking. It does require some more work in preparation, and a different challenge unto its own, as this way of thinking requires to ask questions, and get answers, to work at its most effective. Strategic thinking needs masses of information, and a certain degree of mental discipline, to allow for the proper management of that accumulated data, for organization and analysis. If that skill is lacking, then you will end up with a gap, which will lead to false leads and inappropriate goals, which will certainly impede your success.

If the strategic analysis is done sufficiently, then the planning stage will be far more accurate, leading to less tactical work, given that false leads have been culled, and emotive blocks conquered with rational discipline. With improved planning, less work has to actually take place afterward, as your intelligence gathering and analysis already took place, and allowed you to determined the incremental goals that needed to be achieved for attaining your ultimate goal. This data gathering and analysis will allow you to correctly identify your obstacles, and often, the proper target for action. Sometimes, the best way to convince dad to let you go to college, instead of continuing the family's tradition of coal mining, is to convince grandpa that its a good idea. Just as you are impeded in your thinking by his possible reaction to your decision, he is also impeded in his by his bondage to the perceived importance of family tradition. Single industry towns are pits of despair, as they are unable to conceive of life without that industry, or life outside their county for that matter.

By analyzing the data, and filtering your tactical mind through the filter of your objectives, you can decypher the correct course of action for success. Do you go by the book and follow all the steps, just to make sure you win as much as possible, even if you'll endure endless haggling and anxiety because of too many actors getting involved, with far too many decision power and possibly fickle rationale? Or do you condense your tactics, target the most direct decision maker and deal with a minimum of actors in a minimum amount of time?

Sometimes, the hardest part of the decision making process is the first active step. Making plans is not hard; its acting upon them that is. But if your endgame is to improve your living arrangements, then plan and act accordingly.

And treat your companions, animal and human, to a damn good meal in the bargain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lone gunman

A man who gets picked on would be very tempted to just immediately retaliate, and in some cases, it makes tactical sense to do so. If successful, you'll be left alone, win or lose, either because you wont take their shit, or because if you snapped, then you're crazy, and no one in their right mind messes with crazies.

Tactics is what makes you want to slash a guy's car tires. Its immediate gratification for the target's abusive behavior. And its quick and easy.


It leads to escalation. Cause there's  good chance that he'll know who did it. And then the police are more likely to take for him than you, because you have caused property damage, and at that level of action, it might just be enough juicy action to get them involved. That's the limitation of tactics.

Now, if one was to take the time to think and plan, the whole busted tires, graffiti, or stink bomb tossed into the place of business gets pretty petty. After all, if he just happens to have more backing than you, all he has to do is become a physical threat, and then you're less than likely to raise a fuss and you'll just take your hole and shut up.

Strategically, you want to start by gathering some intelligence. You want to catch a vulnerability or two. You want to use existing tools for your purpose, towards the accomplishment of your goal. You use time as your ally, instead of your enemy.

Strategy is when you can get a whole picture, when you have the map of the whole city, instead of the target neighborhood. Its establishing goals that require more than one step to accomplish, more than one actor to play it's part. Strategy isn't a fixed path, its a destination to be reached.

Then tactics come into play. The short-term cause-and-effect actions, where limited objectives are accomplished with the goal in mind. The win-or-lose endgame is mostly a tactical situation, more dependent on the unforeseen actors stepping in to help or hinder you. Strategy, when well understood and coherently planned, is an ever-flexible beast, open to dynamic changes and directional shifts. Like apologizing to someone who insulted you to get him to drop his guard and let you slide in close where the right blow can cause even more damage than what the original tactic called for.

That being said, sometimes, the best tactic, the one more conducive to your strategic goals, is to play it by the book. Because simply put, a lot of struggles thrive because people aren't willing to do what's necessary; they fight for appearance, so that they dont look like pussies, but really, they dont have the will to win.

But if you plan to win, then you must fight to win. All that matters then, is how you define winning.

And the best strategy is to play your cards as openly as possible, yet still come out on top by superior pokerface. I intend to win. I have had enough losses to last me a lifetime.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A swift kick in the head

Sometimes, your plans get thrown a wrench. The measure of a man, or woman, is how they respond to the situation. Do you bitch and moan? Do you file a complaint and hope that the problem goes away? Or do you roll with it?

A few months back, we had decided that we were moving to a new place. We had started looking at apartments, we had a good idea where we'd end up going, how much it'd cost, but we didn't have the cash on hand; after all, you need the first month of rent, and you have to figure out the moving costs. So I looked at getting a loan. That didn't go over well, as I hadn't been all that smart about using it, so I was denied. Given that situation, the move was put on hold till the financial situation got resolved.

Now, the plan was to fix the credit thing, save some cash, and take the time to find the best place possible at our leisure. I had taken the credit-fix steps, I was on the way to start putting some cash in savings, the back bills were being cleared out, and then it came up that I could start returning to the workplace in the coming weeks, so that I could start seeing some more cash coming in, and while were at it, its quite likely that my girlfriend might get a raise too, so all was going well, yeah?

Turns out that, no. I had expected summer to be something of a bitch, since that the patio would be set up, and there would be some more clientele at a later time in the downstairs bistro, but I figured, we can pull with that for a while more and then move out.

But the bastard is a selfish ambitious bastard. The downstairs bistro has been holding some parties till 3 am, DJs and all. The volume was so loud, the stuff on the shelves were vibrating. Now, if I had moved over a bar, or club, I'd understand. But that isn't the case. Hell, I moved in here before he set up shop down there. Anyways, I called he cops, complaining about the noise level. Took a while for them to respond. Like 2 1/2 hours. And when they get there, I find out that the bistro's getting a bar license. What that means, essentially, is that he can stay open till 3 am every night, sell alcohol and pump up the volume all that time. A dreadful prospect with summer coming.

The area is an up-and-coming neighborhood, an old low-income/welfare area that's being gentrified, condos and fancy shops and all. And he's into the fancy shop shit. If you were a counsellor and you had to pick sides between a thriving business and a pissed-off citizen, in an area that going gentrified, who would you pick? We got our answer when the cops visited and talked to them, but it essentially changed nothing. We get to look forward to near-unlivable nights for the foreseeable future.

So the plan got it's wrench. Well, its sort of back to square one, really. We're leaving as soon as possible, lease renewed or not. Its unlivable, and we cant win, so why fight on his terms? We're back into looking at our financial options, which will most likely be harsh, but I'd rather drop some cash than deal with the asshole downstairs.

The way I see it, we'll have to move aggressively, purge smartly and pack out stuff and leave. I cant say that I care much for this place, we were to move out anyways. But the timing gets thrown a curve ball, and we just gotta roll with it. We might have to downgrade the budget, but we have to get one available ASAP. And we will.

One way or another.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Lady of the Bones

From Wikipedia:

"Left Hand Path is a term used in occultism for one kind of spiritual path. It is the opposite of the Right Hand Path, which is what most people think of when they think of religion or spirituality.
The use of this term in occultism came from a term used in Hindu Tantra, Vama marga in Sanskrit. This ancient form of tantra used the breaking of rules (taboos) as part of the practice. Rules about diet and sex were broken on purpose. For example, rules against eating meat and drinking alcohol might be broken. Such a practice might require eating meat and drinking alcohol while having sex in a graveyard or cremation ground.
People who follow the Left Hand Path in the West are not interested in giving up pleasure or the world in order to be spiritual. They are not interested in worshiping God or following rules made up by others. They seek to gain power and freedom by breaking through taboos, fears and restrictions.
Many people link this term with Satanism and black magic, but they are not the same. The Left Hand Path is sometimes described as amoral."

I'm not one to go on about morality, taboos, or anything like that. The restrictions of the "official" organizations, whatever they are, tend to sound more self-serving than anything, either falling into the religious spin, or the "secret club" game, but mostly, its about "follow the leader." Its not a game I play well. I can listen to what's being said, it may make sense at the time, and I may fall for it... briefly. Unfortunately for groupies, my basic makeup makes me pretty self-reliant, so the onboard critical lens flips back on and the bullshit scalpel comes in and starts removing the unnecessary fodder, which in many cases, strips most of the message. In the end, all that is left is technique, or at least, those that work in my personal repertory.

Whats the point of all this? Well, if you've read any of the previous posts, you'll notice a pretty obvious path of questioning, one of conscious transition, from whatever state I was in to whatever will be next. I have been doing all sorts of things, not necessarily constantly, but transitional periods are rarely consistent; think of how it was to be a teenager and you'll quickly understand what I mean.

One of the recurring themes of the period has been the purge. All kinds of things get collected over the years, some of them casually, some with intent, but they collect. Eventually, they collect dust. That dust can be both the common layers that lay of the objects in the house as they lie forgotten, but there's plenty of dust that accumulates elsewhere, layers of crap that weights down the mind and spirit, all kinds of clutter that clumps down thought patterns and prevent you from moving forward, like all the stuff that piles up in your house.

While I've been doing some purges some time back, collection has renewed and I've fallen back into the bad patterns.


Recent turns of events, when taken in a certain sight, tells me that the transition continues and some paths get revealed to be dead ends. Not long ago, I opened some communication channels with a fine lady with apparent knowledge and demonstrated experience with the more creative and dynamic paths of evolution. Then the goals I had been vaguely pursuing in my physical work have been identified and the routine has been set to put me on the path of achieving them. This week, as I was leaving the gym, I had a simple choice: turn right go wandering to the commercial path where money gets easily blown away on knicknacs, or do I turn left, grab some fish and go home? I turned left. Then the next day, I cleared up some space and did some home workout. Today, I decided to finally drop by the pawnshop and see if that little gizmo I had spotted a while back was still there, and since the price was quite agreeable, I picked it up.

And its a great little piece of work.

All this is, in my mind, an indication that I am going the right way. It lit up some areas I had been setting aside where more cleanup is required. It allowed me to see how those ares could be dealt with. I can feel myself moving forward again. Sure, inertia is still the bastard that slows me down, but the running I've been doing shows me that I can move forward at very nice speed, and with endurance, so its all about kicking myself in the butt.

There are different ways of getting motivated. There are others that can motivate you, consciously or not. But the basic fact is, you have to have your mind open to those possibilities. And its amazing what nearly two months stuck lying down can do to get you motivated. That, and the musty smell of the grave.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I have been off work for ten months now. Post hospital, I've pretty much have been a stay-at-home guy, through no real fault of my own. During all this time, there was a period of high energy and motivation, which had its definite advantages, like getting the house in order, purging loads of accumulated stuff of all kinds, furniture and so forth; some things got replenished, I blew a bunch of money...

Well, thats not the point of this post; the problem that occurred had more to do with the fact that after a while, you know, winter sets in, and, especially since I had something of a foot problem, I didn't get out much, and had next to no exercise. I gained weight. Bastard thing is that I had lost weight while in the hospital, and that was a good thing; the plan was that after I went back home and moved on the phase three, that working out would continue, minus the impediment of extra weight, so I would have gotten closer to me goal, and faster. But, heh, it just wasn't meant to happen, and I put on the pounds.

I had a suspicion that I had; its really hard to fool yourself that you can still fit in those pant when you need to suck in your gut to do so. So when they did the basic physical evaluation at the rehab gym, and I found out just how much weight I had put on, I cant say that I was happy; as a matter of fact, I was right back at the weight I was two years ago, when I gave boxing a try. There was a bit of a screw up, and an unexpected break from the gym sessions took place. I had a physical evaluation done by the doc, and... fucking hell, I had gained even more weight. I'm actually at the heaviest I have ever been (and measured.)

Lets just say that I'm not happy. I cant really say that I'm bummed out, or depressed. No, given my spiritual makeup and past, I'd say that I'm more like... pissed off. Now, it'd be easy, and damn convenient, to blame others for my situation; I do, to a certain degree, but really, I've been pretty lazy. Its even easier. Why work out, when there's all that stuff going on online? Why workout when there's all that stuff piled in the way? Why work out when I can work out tomorrow? Why work out... well, you get the idea.

There are NO logical or reasonable reasons I didn't work out. My brain, due to old programming and bad habits, just cant be bothered to make exercising a real priority, so it'll create a bunch of actually weak and senseless excuses that create non-existent obstacles to my goal. So the big project at this point is ditching that mental trash.

Its not like I am lacking in knowledge, or equipment, I have plenty of that. I can get a proper workout everyday, if I can just my head in the proper space. So its a mental workout, which will lead to a physical workout. Something I have been considering is joining a gym, or a martial arts class. If anything, the financial commitment would certainly provide sufficient incentive to get a workout every day, or at least, several times a week. Using a gym would take away most of my excuses (like stuff being in the way), but a martial arts class would sort of do double duty, getting be in better shape, while allowing me to learn new skills that would come in handy.

I have set myself pretty ambitious goals; that is certainly not something I can be faulted for. I have time; besides the rehab, I dont really have anything going on for a while. I can set aside the money and get things under way.

But do I have the guts?

Do I have the drive?

Will I commit?

We shall see.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Its like riding a bicycle

So last night I attended Nevermore for the first time. Its a local "old school" Goth night, not so much a club night, more like an event, given that its every few months or so. And old school, in the case, is not, say nothing but 80's stuff, its that its about the stuff that used to be played 5-10 years ago, say just before the whole EBM thing really kicked in.

So overall, it was bearable, if a little hot for my tastes (unusually warm sprint weather combined with the traditional bad club ventilation designed to get you to drink more), but it was nice to see less of the plastic kids than usual. I can honestly say that the worst part was the guest DJ, who, yes, used to DJ locally 5-10 years ago, but was one of those responsible for the EBM shit thing, and I cant say that I missed that. At all. Especially the damn shit he played. Seriously, just because KMFDM made it a sort of trademark of theirs to release remixes of their tunes and call it a release doesn't mean that it makes sense to do an entire set of that sort of crap. Also, you know why there's no such thing as "retro dance nights"? its because all that dancy stuff has a life expectancy of about 6 months after it was released. Bouncy stuff really doesn't ago well.

But I digress; while I have attended that sort of events before, and I have reminisced in private and confidence about that sort of thing, last night's vibe actually put something into perspective that had been perplexing me of late; I felt out of touch. I just couldn't blend in, feel the flow, just enjoy the party. There were so many little pointless nagging details that were distracting me that I couldn't just experience it.

I have mentioned in my previous post that I felt out of sync, that I was more of an observer than a participant. That has not changed; what has changed is my understanding of the ongoing process. I have been spending some time and effort recently, helping my girlfriend deal with far too many years of trouble, to reinvent herself, to build who she is.

And now, it just downed on me that its my turn, as this disconnection had taken place quite some time back, leading to a burnout and subsequent questionings and changes. The process of reinvention had been taking place all this time, but on a subconscious basis, bits and pieces at a time. There's been trials and errors, there are things that have been considered, experienced, left by the wayside, or stuffed on a shelf. There things that have been yet considered or attempted, due to all sort of little psychological hang-ups, perceived or not.

It is a pupa stage, where the transformation takes place, a sort of adolescence of awkwardness and misconceptions, of self-torture and delusion. But it is transformative, in that after all is said and done, something new and shiny and dynamic will emerge, to take to the sky anew and pursue more focused goals.

In the meantime, work is required; the body needs to reach its potential, the mind needs to remember its existential focus, the creative needs to remember what work means and the spiritual needs to remember what its all about.

And on the way, there will be blood. But I have shed mine; someone else needs to bleed now.