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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Playing Chicken at the Speed of Life

Most of the time when I sit down to write a post like this one, I kinda have it already written in my mind or at least have some thoughts and concepts that I want to piece together.

In this case, not so much so.... just a title and a few past experiences.

So let's just "flow" and see what happens.

Almost everybody's familiar with the Game of Chicken.

Likely the most well known form of Chicken is when 2 opponents or rivals settle their differences by getting into cars at opposite ends of some roadway and then accelerate towards each other on what seems to be a bi-suicidal collision course.

One way the game is played out is that at some point one of the idiots "chickens out" and averts collision by swerving off the center line.

In the other scenario, well, you know what happens.

A milder form of the Game of Chicken is a Staredown. And let me just say a Staredown is not limited to guys.  I've seen some pretty vicious Staredowns and even more vicious Aftermaths where Women were involved.

In the case of the Staredown Chicken, the first one that blinks, literally or figuratively, is the Loser.

In the arena of Human Behavior, the Game of Chicken is one of the stupidest acts one can participate in, but is an interesting study in the Battle of Wills, Pride and Stubbornness that we oft find ourselves in in everyday life.

As implied, The Game of Chicken can be played out on nearly any Avenue of Life where lines are drawn, principles are set and reasonable discussion has ended.

As explained above, the Rules of Chicken, if that's what you can call them, are pretty simple.

First one that blinks or averts collision is the Loser.

The Winner is the one that Stands Pat, doesn't Compromise their Course and Drives through the Prior Path of their Opponent.

The aftermath of a Session of Chicken depends on how it was decided but here are a few conclusions:

  • If neither participant Chickens Out, there is a devastating collision where Life, Limb, Feelings or Relationships are temporarily or permanently damaged, altered or ended.
  • If one participant Chickens Out, there may be less physical damage and more learning because it reveals something about both participants. For the "loser", maybe they valued their own welfare more than they thought they did or they questioned their conviction or position on the issue that brought them to this point.  For the "winner", it may tell them, that for this particular conflict, the other participant had less invested in the issue than they did.  Or maybe the other participant had more invested or at risk in the issue than they did.
  • In any event, the Game of Chicken, is only played by those who have come to a point of conflict or decision where Discussion and Compromise has ended and a Battle of Wills and Principles has began.
So what are some takeaways from this little discussion on playing the Game of Chicken?

Well, let me just list a few based on my relational experiences at playing Chicken, because that's where all my Chicken playing has occurred:
  • Take every available detour or route of escape to avoid playing the Game of Chicken.  This kind of nose to nose, personality vs personality, Mano y Mano or Womano y Womano  or Man vs Woman conflict really has No Winner.
  • If you are gonna play the Game of Chicken, make sure the Stakes are pretty high, i.e. it's something really important.  It's kinda like a guy I used to work for once told me - If you waste all your time on the penny fights, then you won't have enough energy to fight the Dollar fights.
  • As I said above, there is No Winner in a Game of Chicken, but whatever end you find yourself on following a session of Chicken, be Gracious to the other person.  If it went your way, don't gloat or celebrate. If you were the one that blinked, don't be ashamed or bear any malice.  Either way, accept the outcome, learn from it and move on.
Sometimes, the participants learn something about each other and themselves that makes them better even after the collision....

Monday, October 3, 2016

Women like a Bad Boy.....

Until he acts like a Bad Boy.

Or put another way....

Women want a Bad Boy just as long as he's a Good Bad Boy.

Not that I can speak from the perspective of being a Real Bad Boy -

Because I'm not.

But for being such a Good Boy, I'm a pretty Bad Boy.

I mean let's face it, any 54 year old guy who would put his body through some of the torture I have put my body through and achieve the results I've had.....

Well - let's just say no self-respecting Good Boy would do that.

And my outlier viewpoints, the way I talk, the way I think and the way I act....

Is not exactly Good Boy material.

So it seems that Women want to get to know me -

Until they get to know me.

And the funny thing about it is I tell them up front, I can be pretty raw and uncut at times.

I even use that description in my blog description because as I like to say, if you wanna know about me, read my blog - shocking as it may be.

Yeah - it's kind of amusing.  I'm pretty full disclosure about myself to people.

They say..... "Aaah, you're such a nice guy".

And I tell them..... "Uh - not really.  I can be a real asshole at times".

And then it happens -

And they're surprised.

Go figure.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sometimes Pride Prevents a Fall!

Such a Counter Culture Twist on the Tried and True Biblical advice....

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.  Proverbs 16:18

And to some extent, I agree with this statement.

I am often described as Cocky, Arrogant and Intimidating.

Sometimes I think this is the World confusing someone who knows Something expressing Something because most of those that Know don't Say and most of those that Say don't Know.


Anyway, back to Pride.

Such a negatively connotative characteristic but let me suggest a different angle of approach, application and perspective.

First of all, I think that Pride, like any other characteristic or trait, can be Good or Bad based on how it is treated by any particular individual and their interaction with the World.

Second, my experience with Pride is that it develops and changes over Time.  The Pride I had when I was 24 is significantly different from the Pride I have at 54.  Obviously, there's a 30 year gap between those 2 Prides but more importantly, there's 30 years of experience and life and getting to know and understand myself and what I am good at and what I'm not good at.  So Pride can be changed, honed and developed by Self-Awareness.

Third, Pride can be developed as a Personal Tool or Indicator for guiding future actions much like that "gut feeling" you get when you encounter an experience that, subconsciously and should I say "enterically", you have encountered before.

I say "enterically" because that "gut feeling" is not a gut feeling at all but a real and effective defense mechanism driven by the Enteric System aka "the gut brain".....

And from this link.....

The following -

As light is shed on the circuitry between the two brains, researchers are beginning to understand why people act and feel the way they do. When the central brain encounters a frightening situation, it releases stress hormones that prepare the body to fight or flee. The stomach contains many sensory nerves that are stimulated by this chemical surge - hence the "butterflies." On the battlefield, the higher brain tells the gut brain to shut down. A frightened running animal does not stop to defecate, according to Dr. Gershon.

Fear also causes the vagus nerve to "turn up the volume" on serotonin circuits in the gut. Thus over stimulated, the gut goes into higher gear and diarrhea results. Similarly, people sometimes "choke" with emotion. When nerves in the esophagus are highly stimulated, people have trouble swallowing.

Even the so-called "Maalox moment" of advertising can be explained by the interaction of the two brains, according to Dr. Jackie D. Wood, chairman of the department of physiology at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Stress signals from the head's brain can alter nerve function between the stomach and esophagus, resulting in heartburn.

In cases of extreme stress, Dr. Wood say that the higher brain seems to protect the gut by sending signals to immunological mast cells in the plexus. The mast cells secrete histamine, prostaglandin and other agents that help produce inflammation. This is protective. By inflaming the gut, the brain is priming the gut for surveillance. If the barrier breaks then the gut is ready to do repairs. Unfortunately, the chemicals that get released also cause diarrhea and cramping.

I've talked about the Enteric System in other blog posts before and consider an understanding of it and what it does significant and instrumental in providing data for personal actions and decision making.

After all, to ignore your "gut" is to ignore your history.

In a nutshell, your "gut brain" warns you when things are about to go awry based on your brain's perception of the similarity between a current experience vs a past experience.

Am I tying the feeling of "Pride" to the Enteric System?

Well - if you consider Pride an Emotion, which I do, and if you "feel" that Emotions can be predicted or appropriately responded to based on a "gut feeling", then I guess the answer is Yes.

So how do we bring this assorted information and my Premise for Pride into focus for application in our lives?

Let's assume that you have met the Criteria for Understanding and Dealing with Pride listed above, i.e. 
  1. You have some experience under your belt and can be somewhat mature in dealing with your own Pride.
  2. You are relatively Self-Aware.
  3. You want to use your own Pride as a Tool for Good and not some Self-Defined "Line in the Sand" that absolutely freezes you in a Static Position on an issue or personal encounter.

If all those are True and your Pride has been aroused, violated or insulted by a circumstance or person, then it's conceivable and actually probable that the situation or person encountered may be detrimental or destructive to your well being.

When something or someone activates a "Pride" response, it's like an Early Warning System that if you continue down this Path, you will have to compromise your Core Beliefs or Characteristics in some way.

It doesn't mean that you can't do it.... It just means that something about how you currently are will have to change for you to become more comfortable with the situation that triggered the Pride response.

At a minimum, it is a Red Flag to Stop - Drop - Roll because you might be on Fire or in danger of going up in Flames or down in Flames, whatever the case may be.

In a more moderate expression, it is Time to Take Time and do some self-reflection on the situation and decide what to do going forward.

Pride, like any other Emotion we have, is part of Who We Are.

If allowed to Overdevelop and become Overblown, it can be Destructive.

But, if used as a Balanced Tool from Our Personal Toolbox of Emotions and Traits, it can become....

A Source of Pride or at least Something to Be Proud Of!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Dealing with Setbacks, Critical Mass Data and Fatal Flaws

Good Saturday morning to you my Faithful and Unfaithful Followers and Readers!

I am in a remote location in Texas living alone, working alone and being alone, which gives me time to think and reflect on Nature and the Life of Nature and the Nature of Humans.

But with the Miracle of Modern Technology, I am still plugged or wirelessly wired into the World.... ain't that grand?

Maybe not so much so.

Sometimes I think I would be better off just moving all my Worldly Possessions (which amounts to about a 6 x 6 x 6 cube) into Storage and just taking off with a backpack and 3 days food and water and just letting the chips fall where they may.

Anyway, let's get to the Subject Matter related to this Blog Post title, one of which is the concept of Setbacks.

And like most things in this blog and in life in general, there's an underlying Double Meaning to this subject.

Despite our best efforts to make progress in this ole Life, to better ourselves, to continue to improve on how we deal with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, there will be Setbacks.

You think you've licked a certain problem or you're sitting pretty on amassing a decent savings or bank account or developing a relationship with some special someone and then you experience an event, a happening, a pothole in the Road of Life that leaves you....

In a Hole looking up at where you had been just before.

Let me relate a little anecdote to you that illustrates this inevitable happening of  life pretty well and brings in the 2nd meaning of a setback.

Was talking with a relatively new friend of mine from Santa Fe about a project she is looking at involving constructing an improvement on a property she owns.  Doesn't matter what it is.... just assume it is a structure of some kind.

Naturally, me being an Engineer, a Project Manager, an Owner of Rental Property for 30 years and a guy whose dealt with conceiving, conceptualizing, engineering, designing and building hundreds of structures, I felt relatively qualified to provide some meaningful and pertinent input to a request by my friend to review conceptual designs submitted by an architect she had approached for that purpose.

Now let me shoehorn another critical Life Concept in here which was really a critical fulcrum in the See Saw discussion that transpired between my friend and me.

It became apparent that there was a Critical Piece of Data that the entire concept and design of this Improvement Project was based upon.  You had to have this Critical Piece of Data and understand it and apply it to this particular problem or you were gonna be lost or completely ineffective and even counterproductive in evaluating or discussing the overall project design.

In my life of thousands of happenings / events, 2 failed marriages, limited success and failure at parenthood, sitting through hundreds of industry safety investigations and participating in major project efforts, it has become apparent to me that there is almost always invariably one, or at most, a few pieces of critical info that if not known or known but ignored at the very beginning of the effort, that will result in a failure or, at best, diminished effort or result in the event, project or relationship.

You can label this Nugget of Information / Understanding whatever you want.

I call it Critical Mass Data.

crit·i·cal mass
  1. 1.
    the minimum amount of fissile material needed to maintain a nuclear chain reaction.
  2. 2.
    the minimum size or amount of something required to start or maintain a venture.
    "a communication system is of no value unless there is a critical mass of users"

Note that 2nd definition.... that's what I'm referring to.

Now back to my friend's project and the double meaning of "setback".

One of the Critical Mass Data points for this little property improvement project was the dimension for "setback".

So again, let's see what we're dealing with here.....

  1. 1.
    a reversal or check in progress.
    "a serious setback for the peace process"
  2. 2.
    a plain, flat offset in a wall.

And once again, please note that 2nd definition and let me expand it a little.

In the architectural world and in this case, "setback" is the distance that any structure has to be "set back" or placed from the property line to meet local building codes.  It can be different from city to city.

In this case, my friend was not exactly sure of the Santa Fe NM "Setback" called for but thought her architect had specified that the local building ordinances required any structure to be located at least 7' from the front property line.

Because of the limited space available for the structure, it became painfully obvious that no one - not me or my friend - could talk intelligently about anything that the architect had presented in terms of size and design options for the structure without knowing 2 things:

1.  Where the front property line was.
2.  The exact dimension for setback from that front property line.

Again, any discussion regarding reviewing an existing design, suggesting alternatives or evaluating the location, shape, size, accessibility - you name it - talking about the project had to be predicated by absolutely knowing and understanding those 2 pieces of data.

So being the problem solver I am and being WITHOUT (which I just realized contains the words "Wit Out" which is particularly applicable to this case) those 2 pieces of data, I started reeling off design suggestions and changes from the proposed "expert" architect's design.... because I didn't know or understand the Critical Mass Data that the architect's design was based on.

See my opinion on dealing with "experts" in the previous post:

And every suggestion, talking point and suggested design change was shot down or at least dismissed by my friend.

Which is a good segue to the last concept for this little blog post on human tendencies and deficiencies.

And that is the concept of Fatal Flaws.

So what is a Fatal Flaw?

First off, let me say that any Foible, Fallibility or Failure of any human being is likely not a Fatal Flaw unless it is "activated" or exposed by some situation, event or interaction with another person.

And a Fatal Flow may not be an issue or a problem in an interaction with one person whereas it may be a "Showstopper" with another person.

So I guess a "Fatal Flaw" could be defined as a characteristic, tendency or personality trait that represents a roadblock or inability to progress or be effective in any sort of endeavor - whether it be financial, physical, mental or relational.

And a "Fatal Flaw" for one person may only become one when it comes in contact with a "Fatal Flaw" of another person..... in other words, the specific combination of the 2 opposing Fatal Flaws together at any point in time is like Dynamite in that shit blows up when these 2 component Fatal Flaws come together.

So let's tie all these pieces together shall we?

One of my Fatal Flaws is getting Frustrated with an inability to communicate or at least get my thoughts or ideas acknowledged and / or respected by the person I'm talking with.

One of my friend's fatal flaws is that she is Stubborn.... once she gets something in her mind, I'm convinced she literally has a mental and intellectual inability to process or consider any new information regarding that subject matter.  It's like talking to a brick wall.... You bounce something off it and it comes back at you with like Velocity and equal Dismissal.

I've often said that if you want to really Piss Me Off, just ignore what I'm saying or make it apparent that you don't value my opinion or the effort, experience and knowledge that opinion is formed from.

Perhaps even worse than ignoring my opinion, just keep discounting my efforts to communicate ideas or suggestions for improvement, because you didn't give me all the info that you are privy to.

That's a fucking setup for a really bad situation.

Cause it is a great Precedent for my Ultimate Fatal Flaw as alluded to above.....

Anger! Getting Pissed Off!

Because there's right and wrong ways to get mad..... and I always pick the wrong way.

Which is to say or do something that is really mean or destructive to the other person, our relationship and me.

And getting Mad and saying / doing mean things to someone you care about is a great way to setup a.....


Have enough Setbacks and you end up with....

A Failed Relationship.....

Or a Divorce.....

Been there and Done That....

So Learn from My Life Experiences of Setbacks, Critical Mass Data and Fatal Flaws.

Because Success in Life is sometimes Less about What you Do Right -

And More about What You Don't Do Wrong.